HUSID lookup service


The HUSID Look-up Service (HLS) allows institutions to find the HUSID of a student who has previously been included on the HESA Student Record.

System Overview

The HLS searches the existing HESA database to find a student’s HUSID . The items of personal information used in the lookup need to be relatively unchanging over time, but need to provide a key that is sufficiently unique to ensure that incorrect HUSIDs are not returned. The items chosen for the HLS are:

  • date of birth
  • surname
  • forenames
  • gender
  • last (HESA-returning) institution attended

The HLS requires all five items of data to ensure that the matching algorithm does not send back the wrong HUSID.

The operation of the HLS is easily broken down into 3 stages; registration, submission and response.


The HLS must be secure since HESA are providing personal information back to external users. In order to accomplish this a registration scheme has been devised whereby an institution provides a response email address (which must be at the institution) and HESA provides a 4 character security code which enables the service. There is no limit to the number of users who can be registered at any institution, but all requests for registration must be made by a HESA student record contact, or other person with suitable authority.

To register a user, please complete and send a registration form to Institutional Liaison ( at HESA.


The name of the file must be in the format iiiicccc.hls where iiii is the requesting institution's 4-digit HESA institution identifier and cccc is the 4-character HLS registration code.

The HLS request file must be in a comma-separated format. There should be no double-quoted fields and therefore no field should itself contain a comma. The fields in the HLS Request file are as follows:

Own identifier Optional A field in which the institution can put their own student identifier to aid in linking to the HLS Results file. If this field is not filled in, there must still be a comma before the following field in order to maintain the structure of the file.
Date of Birth Compulsory The date of birth of the student. This field must be completed with a date in one of the following formats: DD/MM/YYYY or DD-MM-YYYY or YYYYMMDD
Surname Compulsory The surname of the student
Forenames Compulsory The forenames of the student
Gender Compulsory The gender of the student
Previous institution Compulsory A HESA institution identifier (including any that are no longer used)

Example HLS Request

The following file contains two valid requests for the same student.



The HLS response is emailed to the HLS contact at the email address quoted on the registration form. For each record of personal information provided in the HLS request file the possible responses are:

HLS Response Meaning
a HUSID Successful search
DUPLICATE A HUSID was found but it is also in use by another record with a different date of birth
NOT-FOUND No HUSID was found that matched the personal information given
AMBIGUOUS More than one HUSID was found that matched the personal information given and it is not possible to determine which (if any) belong to the student in question
INVALID FORMAT The record is not in the correct format
INVALID DOB The date of birth given is missing or not in the correct format
INVALID SURNAME The surname is missing or not in the correct format
INVALID FORENAMES The forenames are missing or are not in the correct format
INVALID GENDER The gender is missing or is not in the correct format
INVALID INSTID The previous institution identifier is missing or is not in the correct format

When all the records in the HLS request file have been processed, an HLS response file will be emailed to the registered HLS user. The format of the response file is as follows:

HLS Response As listed above
Own identifier As supplied in request file
Date of Birth As supplied in request file
Surname As supplied in request file
Forenames As supplied in request file
Gender As supplied in request file
Previous institution As supplied in request file

Example HLS Response

The example request file (above) produces the following response file:


Students to be Submitted to the HLS

The HLS searches against a database containing the student records submitted in the ‘July’ collections since 1994/95. December returns are not included in the HLS database.

Since the HLS is only searching against existing HESA datasets, institutions should only submit to the service students who have studied at a HESA-reporting institution (i.e. publicly funded UK HEI) since the reporting period 1994/95.

Institutions may use the HLS to update, in the July return, a HUSID that has been used in that year's December return. This can only be done if this student is in their first year of the programme of study. An institution should not update the HUSID that was used for that student if it was returned in any previous July submission.

Submissions to the HLS

HESA will monitor submissions to the HLS and might ask users to justify strange or unusually large volumes of HLS requests.

If you have any queries about the HLS, please contact the Institutional Liaison team at HESA (