HECoS, JACS, CAH, and how much HE loves acronyms

Let’s face it, we love acronyms. Having only spent a short time in other industries, I can’t say how widespread this is across other sectors, but we really love acronyms. Certainly it’s something that newcomers to the sector complain about – it’s like we’re speaking another language. Well, now we have a few more!

Since the mid 90’s, courses have been given a subject classification to aid with categorisation and comparison statistics. So for example, N100 was for business and W211 was for typography. It used a hierarchical system, which made sense at the time, but has led to increasing problems as time passed. New subjects no longer fit into it and had to be added at the end. Steadily the number of codes available started to run out. UCAS initially used JACS codes in their applications but then began to diverge. With all the other work going on in HEDIIP around data innovation, it was time to make a change.

So, from 2019/20 we will have the HECoS – the Higher Education Classification of Subjects. Examples of this are 100360 for business, and 100630 for typography. You can see more examples on the twitter feed #hecoscodeoftheday. There is no direct mapping, as it was developed separately from JACS, but there are suggested mappings on the website.

CAH - HECoS mappingsThe CAH (Common Aggregation Hierarchy) is an aggregation tool that will help with mapping from JACS to HECoS. As HECoS is not hierarchical, it will also provide the subject groupings that can be used for analysis.

So there we have it, two new acronyms to learn, and a better way of grouping and classifying our subjects.

Further reading

An excellent article from Andy Youell on WonkHE: http://wonkhe.com/blogs/data-farewell-jacs-hello-hecos/

Another from Marian Hilditch: http://wonkhe.com/blogs/data-q490-to-100329-understanding-the-move-from-jacs-to-hecos/