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23056 Support guides

Our expert analysts have a thorough understanding of our records and processes. We are here to support you throughout the data submission process.

Contact Liaison by email or on +44 (0)1242 388 531 

Find out more about Liaison

Student overview

We collect data across a number of streams. These streams focus on different aspects of higher education.

The Student stream collects data about students studying at higher education providers in the UK. Details of which students need to be returned to us are included in the Coverage document found in the Coding manual.

The data we collect on behalf of the sector is provided to governments and fundng bodies in order to support the regulation of higher education. We also make anonymised data available to the public to enhance understanding of UK higher education and to support its advancement

Our coding manuals provide you with all the necessary documentation to support your data return. The coding manual contains technical documents giving detailed information on the record's coverage, data specification and submission formats. Familiarising yourself with these documents will help you make an accurate and timely return.

Each collection has its own coding manual which can be found in the Data collection section of our site. By default, you will land on the open collection for each record; you can then select previous or future years.

The coding manuals will be updated throughout the data collection cycle and Record Contacts informed by email when new versions are made live. Be sure to check the manual's Revision history for a summary of changes.

You will submit data via the HESA data platform. To access this, you will need to have an appropriate role in our Identity System (IDS). We publish an IDS user guide which includes information on creating and editing your account.

You will need to be given access to the Hesa Data Platform by the relevant Record Contact at your provider.

Once you have access to the system you will be able to upload files and track the progress of the collection.

The coding manual homepage includes all the technical information you require, including:

  • The data specification.
  • File format specifications.
  • A detailed collection schedule.
  • Our XML data entry tool.
  • Quality rules.

This Support guides page collects together the following resources:

  • User guide.
  • HESA data platform: Known issues and release history - to be added

In the Support area of the HESA website, you can find:

Our Data innovation section includes information about:

  • Open and recently completed record reviews, including information about changes we are implementing
  • More information on the Data Futures programme.

In the About section, you can find:


Our expert analysts have a thorough understanding of our records and processes. We are here to support you throughout the data submission process.

Contact Liaison by email or on +44 (0)1242 388531 

Find out more about Liaison

A Reference period is a fixed period of time, the end of which, aligns to when HESA’s statutory and public purpose customers require sector-wide data and information. The diagram below summarises the structure of a Reference period:

Key concepts what is a reference period

Key terms relating to a Reference period:

Sign-off: The process of a defined role (for example Vice Chancellor) making a formal declaration that the data submitted to HESA for a given collection represents an honest, impartial, and rigorous account of the HE provider’s events up to the end of the reference period. 

Dissemination point: The specified date, after the end of a Reference period, by which signed-off data will be extracted and supplied to HESA's data customers. Data disseminated at the Dissemination point will be used for official accounts of the higher education provider’s activity for statistical, regulatory, and public information purposes.


Technical Population: Controls what records are included in the rule.
Technical Validity: Identities which records within the population should trigger the rule.

Valid or Invalid rules:
Invalid = the rule will trigger if the technical validity statement is true. I.e. not expecting this.
Valid = the rule will trigger if the technical validity statement is false. I.e. this is what we are expecting, and anything outside of this will be flagged.

Please follow these steps in cases where Excel is not displaying SID values correctly:

  1. Ensure the file has not been opened in Excel before,
    • If the file has been previously opened, it should be deleted and downloaded again
    • Once a file is opened in Excel, the application adds the trailing zeros and the correct SID value is lost
  2. Open the file in a different application e.g. Google Sheets,
  3. Format the column to Number,
  4. Choose an option to Download/Export to Excel,
  5. Open the file in Excel,
  6. Save the file.

Ensuring the format of the column is set to Number and the decimal places are reduced to zero should correctly show the SID values.

HESA Data Platform (HDP)

ID Issue Summary Status Date raised Date resolved
HDPR-9056 Derived fields: Z_STULOADSCS: This derivation requires an update to correctly assign FTE for the 23056 collection. A number of validation rules use this derivation and so will trigger incorrectly until this is updated. Open 12 February 2024  


Release ID Release date Release summary
1.0.0 31 January 2024

The Online Validation Tool (OVT) for 23056 is now available for provider submissions. Information on the OVT can be found in the OVT User Guide.

This contains rolled on quality rules and derived fields from 22056 and these will be updated iteratively for 23056 in future releases.


Data Entry Tool

The majority of HESA collections are submitted in XML format.  

The Data Entry Tool is a piece of software that allows users to input the data they have collected, and if necessary, amend an existing XML data file. The tool has been created by HESA to allow users to produce XML data in the format required for their submission.   

The Data Entry Tool for the HESA Data Platform is currently available to download from the 23056 coding manual on the HESA website. 

We recommend you run it on a machine with the minimum specification of a 64-bit processor. The kit was developed using Microsoft's .Net Framework 4.8, so your computer should meet the minimum specifications published by Microsoft. 

The Data Entry Tool has been updated to be compatible with the Student - Data Futures schema. The Data Entry tool can be used to validate multiple schemas. This includes the 22056 and 23056 Student records.   

You will first need to load the relevant schema you wish to submit data to. 

The schema to be used, for the 23056 and 22056 Student collections, can be added into the Data Entry Tool:

1. Download the schema from the coding manual and save it locally.

2. Click on ‘Schema’ in the Data Entry Tool and the ‘Add Existing Schema File’.

Adding schema to data entry tool


3.    Select the schema that you've just saved.
4.    This should then appear as an option in the Active schema list.

Selecting correct schema

Top tip: It is important to select the correct and most up-to date schema for the collection being worked on. Check the revision history of the specific collection for the date of the release of the XSD.  It is good practice to keep a check on any updates, so you are not using an old schema

Note: The Data Entry Tool can be used for the 23056 and 22056 Student collections, so it is important to select the relevant collection.

Online Validation Tool (OVT) (23056)

What is the Online Validation Tool?
The Online Validation Tool (OVT) is a separate area within the HESA Data Platform which will enable providers to test their data ahead of the data submission period.
The OVT replaces the offline validation toolkit for the Student - Data Futures 2022/23 collection onwards.  Providers will be able to test and quality assure their files ahead of making a full submission to a live collection on the HESA Date Platform (HDP). 

The OVT user guide is available in the Support section of the HESA website. This guide includes details on:
•    Roles required to access the OVT
•    Logging into the OVT
•    Uploading a file to the OVT
•    File processing
•    Accessing the quality report

A comparison between the OVT and the Validation kit:

OVT Validation kit
Used to test data ahead of submission. Used to test data ahead of submission.
Available online as part of the HESA Data Platform. Downloadable from the collection coding manuals.
Increased validation included, for example historic checks. Less validation, historic checks not included.
Includes feature to download all issues. Results can be saved but not downloaded.
Working online, so providers can ask the Liaison team to view the data if support is needed. Working offline, so the Liaison team is unable to see the data.
More secure as held with other data. Downloaded so may not be as secure.


Submission stages on the HESA Data Platform (HDP)

From the ‘Manage Submissions’ page you can either upload a file or display the previous files that have been uploaded. Once ‘upload file’ has been selected it will take you to the ‘Upload’ stage. 


The ‘Upload’ stage is where a file can be uploaded to the HESA Data Platform (HDP). Here you will have the option to either use the ‘drag and drop’ or select a file to upload.  

The ‘Upload’ cog of the progress tracker will  display a green tick when this is complete. If a file fails to upload it will not be logged as an attempted upload in the HDP activity log. Failure may be caused due to a loss of connection to the HDP. If a file fails to upload then the same file can be uploaded again. 


  • Files can have any name 
  • Files must be in XML and conform to the relevant XML Schema Definition (XSD) file 

Once uploaded, the file will begin processing and will go through the following stages: 

The processing screen will show the status of the processing of your submission as it moves through the various stages.

  • A green tick will appear next to each section once that specific check has been completed
  • Checks that have not yet been completed will have an hourglass symbol against them
  • Checks that have failed (such as the schema check) will have a red ‘X’ against them

Please note that the time taken by the system to process a data file will depend on both the size of the file and the number of errors that need to be reported.

The schema checks ensure that your file meets the schema specification. If your file does not meet the schema specification, then no further checks will be made against your file and a red 'X' (as mentioned above) will appear. An additional report will be generated, displaying all relevant schema errors. This report can also be downloaded from this screen. The next section – enrichment – is where the derived fields are created. A downloadable file will be made available, which includes both the submitted data and derived fields.


Within the ‘Quality assurance’ section the quality and credibility reports will be displayed, along with any additional reports.  

Image of the quality reports available in the HDP

The Quality report will contain the details of any rules triggered by the submission. To pass validation all quality rules need to be within tolerance or be resolved through amending the file. When a new file needs to be uploaded please navigate to the ‘Manage submissions’ menu. Requests for changes to tolerances and thresholds are to be raised as an issue and are managed in the Issue Management System. 

Further details on the quality rules which apply to this collection can be found in the coding manual

The Credibility reports section provides an overview of the data submitted. The tables are broken down into chapters such as ‘Student instance profile’ and will look at year-on-year differences between your data.  

Additional reports will include IRIS, PGR Transfers In/Out.  

What is different?

Previously, you could request a switch for errors by contacting Liaison.

From the Student 2022/23 collection, this is all handled by the HDP and you will no longer contact Liaison for a switch.

Please raise all quality issues in the IMS and request a tolerance override within the issue. These issues will either be self-approved by the provider, or approved by HESA or the relevant Statutory Customer.

This means that rules that were previously warnings will also be dealt with in the same way, and a tolerance override will need to be requested. 

How to raise a tolerance override request

Please raise tolerance override requests for issues that are triggering for a genuine reason. More details are available in the IMS user guide.

1 - In the HDP ‘Create issue’ for the relevant rule by selecting the three dots under 'Issue status' then 'Create issue'. This will automatically create an issue in the IMS. Only request a tolerance override when the issue is triggering for the total number of records expected. Otherwise, you will need to request the tolerance again when it triggers for more records. Tolerances should not be requested for quality rules that are known issues. If you are unsure if a quality rule is a known issue please contact [email protected].

Image of how a quality rule is displayedImage of how to create an issue for IMS

2 - Within the issue select the ‘Request Override’ button.


3 - Make sure you enter a value for the number of records the rule is triggering for. This will be the tolerance that you want to apply to this rule: if it is triggering for 33.33% of records, the tolerance override value will be 33.33%. The tolerance override box must be filled in before the request can be reviewed.

4 - Provide a supporting explanation for why this data is genuine.

5 - The tolerance request will go to the relevant approver for that rule, e.g. HESA or a Statutory Customer.

6 - If the tolerance override is approved the query will be archived and the provider will receive a notification. If it is a provider-approved rule, the query will be archived.

7 - Once a tolerance override is approved, please resubmit the file for the rule to move inside tolerance, or Liaison can re-process your most recent file upon request.

8 - If the tolerance is declined, then a comment will be added to explain why and the issue will be assigned back to the provider.

The Issue Management System can be accessed here:

All quality issues will need to be resolved, either by an amendment in tolerance or correction to the data to progress to the final ‘Approval & sign-off’ stage.

IMS best practice tips

1 - Check the known issues page if a rule isn’t working as expected before requesting a tolerance override. If the rule is on the known issues page, please disregard the rule for the time being. We will update the page once it is resolved. Please do not raise a tolerance for a rule that has a known issue.

2 - You don’t need to request a decommit. If you have changes then you can upload a new file to the HDP. This will update any open IMS queries that you have.

3 - Complete the Data Futures Quality Assurance e-learning to supplement your understanding.

4 - If you plan to upload a new file to fix an issue, you don’t need to add a comment. However, you could mark it as ‘awaiting resubmission’.

Once all issues in the Issue Management System (IMS) have been resolved and the reference period has ended, the data can be submitted for approval within the submit section of the HESA Data Platform (HDP).

Users will need the 'Provider HDP Sign Off - Student' role within the HESA Identity System in order to submit for approval.

Once you have submitted the file for approval, you will not be able to submit another file to HDP unless the submission is not approved by HESA or the OfS (for English providers). If you need to upload a new file to HDP after submitting for approval, please contact Liaison.

HESA and the OfS (for English providers) will then confirm that your most recent submission can progress to sign-off. An email will be sent to users with the HDP submitter role in the HESA Identity System (IDS) once the sign-off form is available.

Section C of the sign-off form allows providers to include any comments about their data. This should only be used to make us aware of any specific issues with your data and the information will be shared with relevant parties to help inform analysis of the data. Whilst the provisions of Clause 2.9 of the providers subscription agreement continue to apply generally, given the above circumstances, if you would like to provide any feedback on the collection, then we ask that this is either sent to Liaison or your regulator/funder.

Your data will need to be signed off by your Accountable Officer/Head of Provider.