Vikki Boliver alerted me to a very important report released by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission on the issue of administrative data sharing. It covers, among other things, the damage done by UCAS's decision to discontinue making anonymized micro-data available (for a fee) to bona-fide researchers. The consequence of this particular piece of bone-headed lack of civic virtue is that the evaluation of public policy goals with regard to equality of access to tertiary level education has been rendered all but impossible.
Nice one UCAS, of course we trust you to always do the right thing even when it conflicts with your commercial interests...Then again a government that actually cared about such matters could always legislate to remove any potential conflict of interest.
But let's not beat up exclusively on UCAS. The issue is wider than just the use of administrative data as Stephen McKay & I point out in comments on the SMCPC web-site. One arm of government is charged with promoting social mobility, while another constructs an obstacle course that makes it difficult for the interested citizen to find out what the facts of the matter are. You couldn't make it up. On second thoughts, you may as well because there is hardly any way to find out if you did.