About Us

The Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) is a consortium of private colleges and universities that collaboratively share, analyze, and use data of all kinds to advance their institutional missions. HEDS further supports the missions of member institutions by facilitating communication and just-in-time support among institutional representatives and by creating networking opportunities at national meetings.

HEDS was formed in 1983. It is an independent not-for-profit corporation governed by a director, a board of directors, and representatives from its member institutions. HEDS is located at the Center of Inquiry at Wabash College.

What kinds of data do HEDS institutions share?

HEDS collects and shares institutional data, third-party survey data, and data from HEDS surveys. HEDS also sponsors opportunities for representatives from member institutions to collaborate on using data.

Each year, HEDS collects and shares the following institutional data. The cost of sharing these data is included in the membership fee:

  • AAUP Faculty Compensation
  • Common Data Set (CDS)
  • NACUBO Tuition Discounting
  • National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) results
  • Number of actionable applications
  • Number of deposits
  • Starting salaries
  • Tuition and fees

For the AAUP and CDS data, institutions may submit the same data file to HEDS that they submit to the AAUP Salary Survey or use for the Common Data Set Initiative. For the remaining data, we ask institutional representatives to complete surveys with the relevant information. HEDS creates an interactive Microsoft Excel file that allows for customized comparisons for each data set.

HEDS also pulls data from publicly available sources and shares them with HEDS members in an interactive Microsoft Excel file that allows for customized comparisons. These comparison files include the following:

  • Baccalaureate Origins of Doctorates – contains overall and discipline-specific data from the WebCASPAR database on the proportion of students that go on to receive PhDs for both public and private institutions. We update this information every three years. The next update will be in 2016–2017.
  • IPEDS – contains data from the IPEDS Data Center for a broad range of public and private institutions.

HEDS member institutions also have the option of sharing individual- and institution-level data from third-party surveys administered by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research (CPR), the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), and the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI). These surveys include the following:

  • CIRP Freshman Survey (TFS) – will be collected again in 2018–2019
  • HERI Faculty Survey – will be collected again in 2017–2018
  • National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) – collected every year

For HEDS institutions that wish to share data from these surveys, the HEDS staff will collect data directly from CPR for NSSE. For the CIRP and HERI surveys, we will collect data files from institutions.

In addition to sharing unit record data from the surveys, HEDS creates summary and/or comparison reports on key data elements from these surveys. HEDS does not share unit record data on the HERI Faculty Survey.

Finally, HEDS administers six unique surveys:

  • HEDS Alumni Survey – asks alumni about the quality and impact of their educational experiences, postgraduate employment, college satisfaction, and college debt.
  • HEDS First Destination Survey – asks graduating seniors and recent college graduates about their primary activities following graduation.
  • HEDS Research Practices Survey – assesses the extent to which college students can apply their information literacy skills to the practice of scholarly research. It asks students about their research experiences and assesses their skills in finding, evaluating, and citing sources.
  • HEDS Senior Survey – asks graduating college seniors to evaluate teaching practices and institutional conditions, to assess the impact of their college experience on their intellectual growth and development, and to describe their plans following graduation.
  • HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey – asks students about their perceptions of their campus’s climate for unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault, their perceptions of how their institution responds to sexual assaults, and whether and how often they have experienced unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault.
  • Teaching Quality Survey – asks students about four important components of high-quality teaching that are correlated with increased student learning: Faculty interest in teaching and student development; prompt feedback; quality of nonclassroom interactions with faculty; and teaching clarity and organization. This survey will be offered to HEDS institutions again in 2017–2018.

HEDS member institutions can participate in these surveys at a substantially lower cost than institutions that do not belong to HEDS ($500 versus $1,600).

All participating institutions receive a comparative frequency report and an SPSS and/or Microsoft Excel file with their participants' responses.

HEDS member institutions also receive a file with unit record data from all participating HEDS institutions, and in many cases, an interactive Microsoft Excel file that allows institutions to create customized comparison groups among participating HEDS institutions. HEDS does not share unit record data on the HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey.

The HEDS Consortium sponsors opportunities for representatives from member institutions to collaborate on using data through the following:

  • The HEDS Annual Conference – focuses on assessment, institutional research, and institutional effectiveness at small colleges and universities. Conference sessions include presentations on almost any aspect of how people at institutions analyze and use data to advance their institution’s mission. Aside from good presentations, an important part of the annual conference is the chance for people from a wide variety of institutions to get together and talk. The 2017 HEDS Annual Conference will take place in Cincinnati, Ohio from June 18–21.
  • An active listserv – promotes the exchange of data, techniques, and other useful information between representatives of HEDS institutions.

How do we ensure that HEDS institutions won’t disclose each other’s confidential data?

When institutions join HEDS, their representatives sign a statement agreeing that they will (1) use data from other institutions only for their own internal efforts to more fully enact their mission, (2) only share these data discretely with audiences inside their institutions and (3) not share these data at all with audiences outside of the consortium. This signed statement, as well as the collegiality within the consortium, has allowed HEDS to operate for more than 30 years with an atmosphere of transparency and trust that fosters the open and honest consideration of, and discussions about, institutional data.