Blog number 2 for the 2020 VizHE team which now includes the skills of Rhodri Rowlands and Jennie Holland both visualisation masters and data wrestlers extraordinaire.

The standard data returns that UK HE institutions have to complete is focused on the estate that University inhabits.  This data set is not always the most exciting (although VizHE have covered it before here and here) but with the current position the sector, country and world are in the estate and it’s make up suddenly becomes an important topic.

The initial discussion for the VizHE team was to look at to what extent social distancing would be possible on campuses.  In the data set from HESA we have students, staff as well as internal and external space for each institution so a couple of calcs and we would have the answer….

As we talked it through though we realised we were getting caught up in the jump to an overly simplistic view of a complex problem.  There are many factors that the metric does not take into account such as how the spaces are configured, what groups the students are in and also to what extent the data focuses on students and staff who would be on campus!

So changes in direction needed – luckily this data set had plenty of options.Within the data set there is a wealth of information around the environmental credentials of the HEIs.  From waste to energy to emissions to travel.It was in travel that Dave decided to explore and to see how the UK HE staff get to work.  In this Viz Dave has defined four categories:

  • Great – where staff cycle or walk to work

  • Not too bad – where staff get the bus, train or car share

  • Bad – where staff travel via motor bike or single occupancy car journey

HEIs were then ranked by how great they were.  There were some unsurprising results with many Oxford and Cambridge near the top and a lot of London and big city HEIs doing well.  Within this though there was a contrast between how many were really great against how much they were just not too bad.Interactive viz – click hereHow do staff get to work_

Jennie’s visualisation is titled ‘Uni-cycling – which institution is #1 for cycle spaces?’, and looks at the total number of cycle spaces at each institution against the number of staff and students to build a cycle space ranking.  The visualisation is split into two halves.  The left-hand gears control the ranking and can be used to flick through the ranking list.  The right-hand gears are used to highlight institutions and look for patterns based on groupings such as Million Plus, Russell Group etc. (data sourced from, as well as their geographical location.

Unsurprisingly Oxbridge do well, with approximately 5 people per cycle space on average (2018/19) compared to 29 people on average across all other institutions.

To expand the analysis further it would be interesting to source some additional datasets and see if there are differences in the number of cycle spaces based on institution type (city, campus etc.), as well as how well the surrounding area is equipped for cycling based on the number of cycle routes. 

View the viz here!

Jennie Viz

Hopefully that has shown that there are some interesting insights in the Estates data!

Let us know what you think

VizHE crew


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