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HESA Student record 2013/14

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Quick start guide

Version 1.0 Produced 2013-11-26

New to HESA?

This page contains some useful information to get you started in navigating the coding manual pages and finding the information you need to complete the return.

If you cannot find the information that you are looking for on the HESA website please contact the Institutional Liaison team, by either emailing [email protected] or telephoning 01242 211144.


Navigating the HESA website

The toolbar along the top of the website page can be used to direct you to the area of the HESA website that is relevant to your needs. Selecting one of the options from this toolbar will generate a drop-down menu showing further options to choose from. For example, selecting 'Data Collection' generates the following menu:


The first column of this menu provides links to the coding manual pages for each data stream that HESA collects. The second column relates to the data collection system and the third and final column provides additional information that applies to more than one collection.

Navigating the coding manual pages

For each data collection HESA publishes a coding manual to provide institutions with all the necessary documentation associated with the record requirements. The coding manuals can be accessed by selecting the 'Data Collection' option from the toolbar at the top of the screen on the HESA website. Once a data stream has been selected from the menu presented, the user will then be taken, by default, to the pages relevant to the current collection. This landing page, containing a number of sections, is referred to collectively as the coding manual.

Thus the coding manual contains a range of information relating to a specific collection, such as the data specification, submission process, quality assurance, and the onwards use of the data, and as such is an essential point of reference for both institutions making the return, and those using the data. If you are new to HESA, the 'Overview' section of the coding manual contains some background information on the collection and so may be a useful starting point.

The 'Data specification' section of the coding manual contains detailed information relating to the data model and the data items collected together with information about the structure of the record and the schema needed to produce the XML file that you will submit to HESA.

Coverage of the record

Which students are included in the Institution profile record?

Full details of the coverage of the record can be found in the Coverage of the record document in the coding manual page, shown under the 'Data specification' section heading.

What is the reporting period?

All HESA records are collected on the basis of the HESA reporting period, which determines the period of time the data being returned relates to. This ensures consistency across the data streams collected. The reporting period is from 01 August year 1 to 31 July year 2, for example the 2012/13 Institution profile record was collected in respect of the activity which took place between 01 August 2012 and 31 July 2013.

Completing the return

What online resources are available to support me in making the return?

The coding manual details all of the data items collected in the record, the valid entries for each and notes of guidance relevant to the coding of the information returned. Issue of each version of the coding manual is accompanied by Release notes and any changes to the coding manual are detailed in the Revision history document. It is therefore essential that institutions are familiar with the coding manual and make frequent reference to it when completing the return.

The data collection hub gives important information relating to the data collections, for example data return deadlines together with other useful resources. It also includes a data collection diary that can be downloaded onto your computer to assist with local planning.

When does the data need to be sent to HESA?

Data for the Institution profile record is collected in-year, reporting in May on activity which has taken place already and will be taking place in the whole of the current academic year. This therefore requires some forecasting on behalf of the HEIs. The HESA data collection system opens at the beginning of May and institutions are required to have sent a full and verified set of data to HESA by the deadline for last submission in June. There are several deadlines which institutions must achieve as part of the submission process and these are detailed in the data collection schedule document on the coding manual, which will be made available in early 2014. It is important that institutions work to the set deadlines in order to complete the return on time and ensure data quality.

The diagram below illustrates the data collection timeline:


How is data submitted to HESA?

Data is submitted to HESA through the online data collection system known as 'Aardvark'. The system opens approximately six weeks before the return date for the record. To enable access to the system two forms of security 'tokens' are sent to each record contact ahead of the system opening and via separate media. For security reasons HESA cannot provide these tokens to anyone other than the named record contact, so it is important to ensure that these contact details are kept up to date. However wider access to the system can be managed locally within the institution at the discretion of the record contact. Once users are registered for the system they are able to both upload files and view reports. More information on the submission process and interaction with the system is available in the Help with the data collection system document.

Information relating to the submission and validation of data can be found in the coding manual under the 'Submission process and quality assurance' section heading.

Record contacts

What is the role of the record contact?

For each of the data streams returned to HESA each year the institution must nominate a specific record contact. This person will be the first point of contact for HESA in all matters relating to data collection. As such record contacts will receive the security tokens (access code and PIN) that enable registration for the data collection system, data quality queries, which must be responded to, updates to operational documentation and also consultation documents. Whilst the record contact may not necessarily be the person submitting the data they are responsible for overseeing the process locally ensuring that deadlines are met and the submission progresses satisfactorily.

HESA will liaise with the record contact during data collection and some vital information, such as the security tokens can only be provided to this named person. It is therefore essential that HESA are informed of any changes to contact details as soon as possible.

How are contacts nominated?

HESA undertakes an annual contact management exercise whereby the head of the institution is requested to nominate a contact for each record and provide their full contact details. It is understood that there may be changes to the contacts within year, however institutions are requested to notify Institutional Liaison of any such changes immediately.

Need help?

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