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HESA Student Record 2008/09 - Student instance identifier

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HESA Student Record 2008/09

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Student instance identifier

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Short nameNUMHUS

This field complements the HUSID field to identify the separate courses that individuals take. HUSID + Institution identifier + NUMHUS together form a unique identifier known as HIN. An identification of the basic unit of 'a coherent engagement with the institution aiming towards the award of a qualification(s) or credit' which is described in the HIN guidance section of this documentation.

Applicable toEngland Northern Ireland Scotland Wales

All instances

Base data typeNUMHUSType
Field length20
Part of
Minimum occurrences1
Maximum occurrences1
Reason required

To distinguish - and between years, link - episodes of study by the same student at the same institution; a vital tool (through the generation of HIN) to support year-on-year linkage, for example to link entities in the HESA record and for Teaching Quality Information (TQI); used in the Higher Education Initial Participation Rate (HEIPR) calculation by BIS.


Detailed examples of HIN linking can be found in the HIN guidance document.


Field length 20 is to allow institutions to use an instance identifier already held internally. Where a instance identifier held internally is used, institutions must continue to use this number even when transfers or natural progressions occur. As a consequence of this institutions may find it easier to number student instances sequentially starting from 1 or A etc. A new instance number format can only be introduced for instances that have not been returned to HESA. This will be the case for new entrants and for continuing students commencing courses that have not previously been returned to HESA.

Further guidance on the importance of maintaining the HIN link across years can be found in the HIN guidance document.

Valid characters

The valid characterset available for this field has been defined by a specific study undertaken as a part of the MIAP Common Data Definitions (CDD) project. The conclusions of this study were:

  • The general policy is to support all Latin-based characters for names, addresses and general text fields, but not non-Latin characters.
  • All Unicode code charts for Latin characters are supported. These are Basic Latin (excluding the C0 control characters), Latin-1 (excluding the C1 control characters), Latin Extended A, Latin Extended B and Latin Extended Additional. This set corresponds to Unicode code points U+0020 to U+007F and U+00A0 to U+024F.
  • Schemas are built in such a way that an individual project can further restrict the set if required.

The character set chosen will support Welsh and Gaelic languages as well as all European and most other languages using a Latin-based character set.

The Unicode charts that list each of the characters in this range can be found on the Unicode web site. The specific sets that are defined here are shown in the following PDF documents:

XML files must be encoded with UTF-8 if they contain characters beyond the standard ASCII character set. Institutions are advised to specify the encoding used in their XML files (i.e. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>) and to ensure that their files are actually saved with that encoding. Files with an explicit encoding declaration other than UTF-8 will be rejected. Files with undeclared encoding will be assumed to be UTF-8. If encoding is not specified or does not match the actual file encoding, institutions are warned that there is a risk that data contained in the files may be changed on submission to HESA.

Further guidance

Further guidance is available from HEFCE on the reporting of multiple instances for students studying for credit.

Date modified2009-07-30
Change management notesFurther detail provided for file encoding
Schema components
Element: NUMHUS
Data type: NUMHUSType

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