Is there a relationship between the movement of people for education and loneliness? A Data Challenge

Join our loneliness and movement for education competition to better understand how the displacement of people for education affects loneliness and compete for a cash prize of £1,000.

Enter the competition

Please send your entries to by 19 June 2019

The challenge 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has developed a loneliness index using open prescription data which is available at the MSOA (Middle layer Super Output Area in the ONS coding system) level across England. These data also provide information to identify MSOA’s that are within geographical clusters where the loneliness index is high or low. We would like to understand if the mobility of people for education is associated with the risk for being in a high or low cluster. The movement of people for education can be locally or across a great distance.

In this competition, we would like to challenge participants to put forward a research question related to loneliness and movement for education, and answer it using the loneliness dataset provided (see below) alongside other suggested data sources.

We look forward to seeing how you can use your skills to make a difference!       

Example research questions 

  • Children often travel outside their catchment area to go to school which may result in parents and children not developing strong social networks close to home. Does this impact on loneliness in an area? 

  • Parents often do not get their first, or even second, choice for their child’s school. This may impact the family and the child by being in an undesired location either geographically or socially. Does not getting first choice of school (being in an undesired cohort) impact on loneliness? 

  • The OFSTED ranking of schools vary geographically, as does the type and size of the school. These factors may impact on social cohesion in an area and impact on loneliness. Is there a relationship between different types of schools and loneliness? 

  • Some areas of the country have limited choice of educational opportunities after high school, either limited apprenticeship, college, or university course options. This can result in young people moving away and dividing families. Does this impact on loneliness in an area? 

  • University applicants often do not get the grades needed for their chosen university requiring them to go through clearing to get a placement. This may impact the student by being displaced geographically or by being in an undesired local location. Does this impact on loneliness in an area? 

Suggested Data 

Data from the loneliness index will be provided to participants that have signed up to the competition (see below). Take a look at further information provided in this blog - Developing a loneliness prescription index. Additional data can be found here:

  • HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) has a wealth of open data including student numbers by level of qualification, mode of study, HE provider, proportion of students living at home and subject broken down by sex, age group, disability status, ethnicity, socio-economic classification, WIMD/SIMD, 'Participation of Local Areas (polar) etc. They also have Higher Education student data

Competition rules 

  • The competition was launched on 2 April 2019.

  • Potential participants are invited to attend an information session and workshop on 1 May when the providers of data will be available to answer questions about the dataset and teams can start discussing how to develop ideas for this competition.

  • The competition is open to all individuals over the age of 18 at the time of entry. Individuals or teams can enter. Teams can have up to five members. 

  • The teams can have non-University of Bristol (UoB) members, but at least one member needs to be a current member of staff or student at UoB. If an individual enters the competition, she/he needs to be a current member of staff or student at UoB. 

  • The Jean Golding Institute and the data providers have the rights to publicly disseminate any entries (but contestants will be appropriately credited as the creators of any content). 

  • Participants can link other sources of open data to the analysis. 

  • The teams that wish to showcase their solutions in the future will need to refer to the competition as follows: ‘This work was undertaken as part of a data challenge organised by the Jean Golding Institute for Data-Intensive Research at the University of Bristol and ONS’. 

  • The final deadline for entries is 19 June 2019. 

Signing up 


  • Entries can take any shape or form, but contestants are expected to submit both a presentation of the results (e.g. a brief report in blog form <2000 words and data visualisations) as well as the code/analysis syntax used to generate the outcome.  

  • If you choose to make your entry available through an online repository (e.g. Github) please consider the terms and conditions attached to the data (T&C’s will be included with the data shared by ONS Data Campus).

  • Email your entries to


Judging of entries

Entries will be judged by a panel convened by the Jean Golding Institute and will be judged on the following: 

  • Potential value of the insight into the problem generated by the work 

  • Innovativeness of the work 

  • The extent to which the presentation of the work is clear and engaging. 

Information event and workshop (lunch will be provided) 

There will be an information session on May, 10:00-12:00 in the Library Room, Ground Floor, Royal Fort House, BS9 8UH. At this meeting the data providers will be available to answer any questions surrounding the competition. The meeting is also an opportunity to meet other contestants and form teams should you wish to do so and to explore the datasets.  


The winner of the competition will receive £1,000, with the two runners-up each receiving £250. The prizes will be sponsored by the University of Bristol. 

The Jean Golding Institute will discuss with the winning team how to potentially continue supporting the development of their projects. 

The winning team will have the opportunity to present their work at the Data Science Campus at the Office for National Statistics. They will spend a “Day in the life” of a Government Data Scientist. Furthermore, their work will be showcased on the Data Science Campus website in blog form.  


The winning team will need to be available to showcase their entry at the Government data science community of interest meet-up. More information will be available nearer the time. 

Data licenses

Any questions?

Key dates

2 April 2019 - competition launch

1 May 2019 - Information session

19 June 2019 - Entry deadline

28 June 2019 - Winners to be announced

date tbc - Prize presentation, talk and ONS Data Science campus visit

Register for competition

Please register for this competition to receive the dataset

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