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Designated Data Body for England

HESA is the Designated Data Body (DDB) for higher education in England as defined by the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 (HERA). HESA was selected as the DDB by the Office for Students (OfS) following consultation with HE providers and sector bodies in 2017.

HERA Sections 64 to 67 set out the duties of the DDB to compile, make available and publish higher education information, and the power of the DDB to charge fees. Schedule 6 sets out the process for designating a DDB and the arrangements for oversight by the OfS.

Summary of DDB duties

The DDB must compile appropriate information about HE providers and courses, and make this available to the OfS, UKRI and the Secretary of State for Education. In doing so the DDB must cooperate with other data collectors and consider the burden of data collection on HE providers.

The DDB must publish appropriate information about HE providers and courses with consideration for what would be helpful to UK and international students, prospective students, and HE providers. The DDB must consult with HE providers, students and graduate employers about the information it publishes.

The DDB may charge fees not exceeding the costs incurred in performing these duties, and is required to publish details of how these fees are calculated. For details of how the HESA subscription is calculated to cover the costs of compiling, making available and publishing information about higher education in England see Subscription information.

Relationship with the Office for Students (OfS)

The OfS Data Strategy outlines the OfS’ plan to be an evidence based regulator using data and information to inform regulation. The data strategy sets out a number of ways in which OfS will work with HESA to achieve this.

It is also the role of the OfS to hold the DDB to account for the performance of its duties, and the DDB must make an annual report to the OfS. Every three years the OfS must make a report to the Secretary of State about the DDB’s performance including confirmation of whether the DDB should continue to be designated.

The relationship between OfS and HESA is formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the OfS set Key Performance Indicators to monitor and assess HESA’s work.

HERA governs the statutory role of HESA in England. For the rest of the UK see Statutory role in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.