Educause’s data-governance plan pushes university transparency

Institutions should strive for centralized data governance units led by a chief data and analytics officer, a report suggests.
Digital holographic blue transparent drawer with data inside.
(Yuichiro Chiro / Getty Images)

A new “action plan” on data governance published by Educause encourages higher education institutions to create centralized, enterprisewide units for data governance, led by a chief data and analytics officer.

The 2023 Educause Horizon Action Plan: Data Governance report, published on Monday, shares the vision of a panel of higher education and analytics experts for the future of institutional data governance over the next 10 years. 

Educause defines data governance as the “processes, policies and goals” related to managing institutional data. This includes data access, data quality, security and privacy compliance, as well as retention and archiving, the report says.

The report encourages institutions to foster a culture of “transparency, collaboration, engagement and adoption” around these functions in order to ensure that “all stakeholders have a better understanding of general data security, privacy and ownership.”


By centralizing data governance in one unit, institutions can signal the “legitimacy and importance of data governance to the rest of the community,” the report says. Additionally, by including data governance in institutional strategic plans, data governance will no longer be seen as “an afterthought in strategies, systems and architecture,” the report claims.

Data governance and data assets should have cabinet-level accountability, the report suggests, encouraging higher ed leaders to view data as an institutional asset “on par with money.”

“In this age of digital work and life, data are undeniably as valuable as tangible currency,” the report says.

A recent poll by Educause suggests that higher education institutions have not yet figured out how best to organize data governance and management staff, with survey respondents indicating their institutions have taken both centralized and decentralized approaches.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said their institution had recently restructured one or more of its data functions, and 28% said their institution was considering making a change in the near future.

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