Data-banks do not grow up on their own. They are constrained by the objectives of the researchers or administrators who build them, and by the institution or environment that they relate to. Ideally they imply and require systematic planning. In practice this may be difficult to achieve. Unlike normal institutions of higher education, who receive students with few exceptions for a specific limited time period, which has a known end, the British Open University is committed to an open-ended flexible system in which students may study different numbers of courses in different years, take time off and return a year or so later and carry on their studies over an indefinite period. Different departments inside the University need information from different sources for different purposes. Some of it is course-based and some of it is student-based.