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.

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 challenged 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.     

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 was provided to participants. Further information can be read 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

Judging of entries


The panel of judges considered entries based on the following criteria:

  • 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. 

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