No. Government departments like to maintain large databases of personal data, in part at least to enable statistical research as to what policy measures prove effective. Examples include – in education – the National Pupil Data Base (NPDB) and the Learning Records Service.

But these databases are assembled without really asking the individuals involved whether they agree. Further, they are often incomplete. For example, LRS mainly contains qualification data from secondary and further education in England: many universities do not contribute data, and the approach is not used at all in Scotland. (We are not sure about the situation in Wales or Northern Ireland.)

UCD will enable individuals to pull down data from LRS and combine with qualification data from other sources. Then, if they are asked nicely, they may well agree to let an external party view their data for research purposes, provided their anonymity is protected. An explicit link to a research agency could even be installed by default, provided that the individual has the right to delete it.

In summary then, UCD  will not prevent statistical research, since databases – such as LRS –  will likely remain in place. Rather UCD has the potential to enhance such research by actually asking the individual, digitally, for permission to access all data relevant to a given enquiry, not just the sub-set captured in a centralized database.