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AP student 2014/15: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2014/15 AP student collection (C14054).

This should be used alongside the C14054 coding manual, which provides more detailed, technical information about the collection.

Need help? Contact us by email or on +44 (0)1242 211144

AP student overview

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

The AP student stream collects data about students studying at alternative higher education providers. The sector uses this term to describe specialist providers of HE. 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 the government and the relevant funding council 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.

The below table provides an overview of the data collection schedule. A more detailed timetable can be found in the Coding manual.

Period Actions
August 2014 to July 2015 Data capture and collation
March 2015 Data collection system opens
September 2015 Full data collection system available
09 October 2015 Return date
23 October 2015 Commit date
23 October to 27 November 2015 Data quality checking period
27 November 2015 Last submission
4 December 2015 Sign off

You submit data via our Data Collection system. 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 Data Collection system 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 (available for some streams)
  • Quality rules.

This Support guides page collects together the following resources:

  • User guide
  • Data collection system: Known issues and release history.

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
  • Our Data Futures programme which will transform the higher education information landscape.

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 211144 

Find out more about Liaison

Our JISCMail groups allow you to discuss specific streams with colleagues from across the sector. We also use the lists to circulate news regarding data requirements and coding manual and validation kit releases.

Join the HESA-AP student JISCmail list

If you encounter any problems, contact Liaison

Preparation guide

Data protection

Principle 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998 requires that information be provided, or made readily available, to data subjects so that they are not deceived or misled as to the purposes for which their data is to be processed. In order to satisfy this principle, the statutory bodies and HESA supply text for use by alternative providers. This text can be found on our website. You must make these notices available to all relevant data subjects.

Accessing the data collection system

Access to the data collection system for the C14054 collection, as well as for Minerva, is governed through our Identity System (IDS).

IDS serves as a single-sign-on portal governing access to all our websites. This means that you will have one username and password to access all of our services. The IDS system also allows you to grant and revoke additional roles relating to viewing and submitting data.

The AP student record contact for each provider has access to the data collection system. The record contact is able to invite additional colleagues to have access to the system to submit data and view reports. Further information can be found in our IDS User Guide.

Tranche - overview

For the C14054 AP student record, we have adopted a modular (tranche) approach to delivery of the data collection system. This means functional components of the system are being released incrementally during a period from March leading up to full functionality being available in early September.

The Tranche initiative gives you more flexibility in when data can be submitted. This in turn provides a longer window for data quality checks to be made. 

Amal Tool

For the C14054 collection, you need to submit a single file containing full data. Each subsequent file you upload will replace the previous one. If you prepare your data in multiple *.xml files, our XML amalgamator tool will combine these records prior to submission.

Information Reporting Interface Service (IRIS) output

HEFCE will generate two comparative outputs (the HEAPES re-creation and the Student Loans Company comparison). These compare the data you submit to us with data from other sources, with a view to improving data quality. HEFCE will write to you in early September with more information about these outputs.

The HEAPES re-creation will be made available to providers from early September as part of the Information Reporting Interface Service (IRIS) reporting available through our data collection system. The SLC Comparison, which will also form part of the IRIS output, will be available from mid-October. You are required to review both of these outputs to ensure that the data returned to us is accurate.

Validation kit

Our Validation kit grants you earlier access to the validation processes to test against schema and business stage quality rules. The 2014/15 AP student validation kit is available for download.

Minerva queries

During the data quality checking phase of data collection, 'committed' data will be reviewed by us and HEFCE. Resulting data quality queries will be raised with you through the Minerva system.

You are required to actively engage with data quality checking and the resolution of Minerva queries during the collection period. Best practice suggests you interact with Minerva and our data collection system frequently throughout the checking period. This allows you to gradually resolve issues either through providing explanations of genuine data or submitting revised data that corrects issues. Through adopting this approach, you can iteratively improve the quality of your data and expose issues in a timely manner leading to better quality returns.

We expect you to respond to all queries raised prior to sign-off by the head of your provider. Failure to do so may result in the sign-off not being accepted. As a guide we expect that these queries should be answered within 5 working days.

Known issues

All reported issues relating to this collection are available under Known issues. These include any fixed and open issues that we are aware of.

Derived field specifications

Analysis and outputs provided by us use derived field groupings to produce populations. Full details of the derived fields that we use in analysis of the C14054 AP student data are available from the C14054 coding manual page.  

Record contact changes

The record contact is the first point of communication during data collection. Access to our data collection system is also managed by the nominated record contact. If these details change please ensure you notify Liaison to prevent any delay in the granting of this access.

Data collection system: Release history and known issues

Issue summary Status Date raised Date resolved

Issue ID: 3171 - Validation kit, Quality rules

Greater than and Less than symbols displayed incorrectly (> and <) on rule description

Open 10 January 2015  

Issue ID: 8556 - Validation kit, Quality rules

QR.C14054.InstancePeriod.SSELIG.2 triggering incorrectly and displaying an incorrect EntryProfile.DOMICILE value

Fixed 9 Novermber 2015 26 November 2015 (release 04)

Experiencing an issue not listed here? Let us know.

Release ID Release date Release summary
16 19 October 2015 HEFCE have made available the SLC outputs which form part of the IRIS reports.
 15 12 October 2015 Credibility reporting: A comparison report is now available and allows users to select any two versions of the Credibility report to compare. Changes in values are highlighted to assist providers in identifying the changes made between submissions.

The UNISTATS and NSS files are now available to those providers who have elected to return data for publication on UNISTATS. The UNISTATS downloadable file contains four tables with the populations and derivations used for publication on the UNISTATS website. The NSS file contains the population for the National Student Survey; you are encouraged to review this file to ensure that the list is complete.

Data supply: an error was found in the derivation of the XETHNIC01 value for students whose domicile is unknown. The data has been updated and reprocessed to address this.

 14 19 September 2015 The dashboard of the data collection system now displays the number of outstanding data quality queries relating to a 'commit' transaction made by the provider. This will only appear where such queries exist and a response from the provider is required. The message also provides a link to the Minerva system through which these queries are accessible.

The Data Supply report is now available to you if you have passed Entry Profile validation. This provides a copy of the raw data you have submitted alongside all of the derived field groupings that we have applied. The Data Supply files can be used to recreate the data displayed in the Credibility Report tables and for further internal analysis.

Credibility reporting: The final three credibility tables have been released. These tables are FTE1, FTE2 and FTE3.

 13 8 September 2015 The IRIS report, which contains outputs generated by HEFCE, is now available. This report is only available where the submitted file passes validation with no errors outstanding.
 12 3 September 2015 You are now able to 'commit' your data once all validation errors have been resolved. The 'commit' action makes the data available to HESA and HEFCE for quality assurance. No further submissions can be made while data is committed. In order to continue submitting new files, you must contact us to request that you data is decommitted.

Credibility reporting: Six further tables have been released. These tables will only be visible where a file has been submitted from 03 September (pm) onwards.

Quality rules: The following quality rules have been updated:

  • QR.C14054.Instance.ENDDATE.3 - updated to remove the InstancePeriod.NOTACT clause
  • QR.C14054.Instance.ENNDATE.4 - moved to exception stage
  • QR.C14054.InstancePeriod.PERIODEND.3 - this rule was not triggering correctly where multiple Instance Periods were returned
  • QR.C14054.InstancePeriod.NOTACT.1 - updated to include an Instance.ENDDATE clause
  • QR.C14054.InstancePeriod.STULOAD.3 - this rule was triggering inconsistently.

Destinations of Leavers (DLHE) survey population: This report is now available for those of you submitting data for the purposes of 'Course designation and UNISTATS'. This report provides a list of students who should be surveyed as part of the 2014/15 DLHE collection.

11 20 August 2015 Credibility reporting: Five further tables have been released in the Credibility report. These will only be visible where a file has been submitted from 20 August onwards.

Quality rules: 16 further quality rules have been released and fixes have been issued to the following four rules:

  • QR.C14054.InstancePeriod.STULOAD.2 - this rule was not triggering correctly where multiple instance periods had been returned
  • QR.C14054.EntryProfile.DOMICILE.7 - this rule should not have been triggering where QR.C14054.EntryProfile.DOMICILE.6 applies
  • QR.C14054.Student.SSN.4 - this rule was triggering correctly but displaying the incorrect record details
  • QR.C14054.InstancePeriod.NOTACT.1 - this rule was not triggering where the STULOAD value had been reported in the formats 000 or 00.0.

You can now access historical versions of reports (i.e. those relating to previous transactions). Historical reports are available for the Entry Profile, Quality Rules, Frequency Counts and Credibility reports.

 10 7 August 2015 Credibility reporting: This is the fourth issue of the Credibility report for the 2014/15 collection. An additional five management information tables have been released and a change has been made to the population criteria for tables HQOE3 and HQOE4.

Quality rules: 14 further quality rules have been released and a fix has been issued to the rule QR.C14054.InstancePeriod.MODE.4.

Quality rule report: The report is now available to download in *.csv format in addition to the *.xlsx download. 

There have been some changes to the text on the dashboard screen including the addition of the transaction number to both the dashboard and reports.

 9 24 July 2015 Credibility reporting: This is the third issue of the Credibility report for the 2014/15 collection. The additional two management information tables, relating to qualifications on entry, should be used to assist with quality assurance.

Quality rules: 29 further quality rules have been released and fixes have been issued to the following rules:

  • QR.C14054.EntryProfile.PREVINST.2
  • QR.C14054.EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.6.

The Quality rule compare report is now available. This allows a comparison between the Quality rule reports for any two transactions and highlights the changes between the two submissions. It also enables you to access the full Quality rule report for a previous transaction.

The Reports and Downloads table contains information relating to all reports applicable to the collection, even where they are not yet available or not applicable for the current transaction. This is to enable providers to ascertain whether they have reviewed the full suite of reports.

The Amalgamator tool, which allows you to merge multiple XML files, is now available for the 2014/15 AP Student collection. The tool can be downloaded from the coding manual and is also available from here.


 8 9 July 2015 Credibility reporting: This is the second issue of the Credibility report for the 2014/15 collection. The additional four management information tables included can be used to assist with quality assurance.

Quality rules: The Quality rules report can now be downloaded into Excel.

 7 25 June 2015 Credibility reporting: This is the first issue of the Credibility Report for the 2014/15 collection. The two management information tables included can be used to assist with quality assurance.

Quality rules: QR.C14054.Instance.RSNEND.4 has been added.

User interface: There has been a small update to the Reports and downloads table to amend the phrase 'Issues in tolerance' to 'warnings and switched errors'.

 6 11 June 2015 Quality rules: 16 new quality rules have been released. They are exception stage quality rules and therefore only available through the data collection system.

Fixes have also been made for bugs affecting the following quality rules:

  • QR.C14054.EntryProfile.DOMICILE.6 (not displaying in HUSID order)
  • QR.C14054.Student.EntryProfile.1 (was displaying the incorrect NUMHUS data item)
  • QR.C14054.EntryProfile.POSTCODE.5 (was triggering overzealously)
  • QR.C14054.EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.2 (triggering correctly but over reporting data).

The list of designated courses has been updated in the validation kit and data collection system.

 5 29 May 2015 Quality rules: Four new quality rules have been released. They are exception stage quality rules and therefore only available through the data collection system.

A fix has also been made for a bug affecting QR.C14054.Course.COURSEAIM.1 which was triggering incorrectly.

Validation switches are now available for providers failing a rule with genuine data. If you believe that the data causing the validation error is correct please contact us by email or on +44 (0)1242 211144.

 4 15 May 2015 A number of bug fixes have been made to quality rules, notably:

  • QR.C14054.HUSID.2 was triggering incorrectly where certain INSTIDs were returned in values 3-6
  • QR.C14054.HUSID.3 was triggering incorrectly where the final digit of the HUSID is 0
  • Schema errors were displaying incorrectly in the quality rules report. Each distinct schema error is now displayed as a separate error in the report.

In addition to the bug fixes, improvements to performance have been made so that large files will process more quickly and reports generate sooner.

 3 30 April 2015 Frequency counts: Updated display in the Reports and downloads table
 2 13 April 2015 Frequency counts: The frequency counts report is now available once a file has been uploaded.

Raw data files: Copies of the *.xml files uploaded to HESA are now presented back and available to download through the Activity log.

Quality rules: A number of new quality rules have been released and these are available in both the downloadable validation kit and through the online data collection system.

Entry Profile report: The EP report has been released and is available once a file has been submitted.

 1 6 March 2015 The data collection system became available for providers to access and upload an XML file.

Quality rules: On submission of a file, automated validation checks are run and the results available to view in the Quality rules report. Validation is available through the downloadable validation kit and through the online data collection system.

Stages of data submission

A. Sending data

Send data by clicking on the 'send data' button in the data collection system. Note that actions not currently available will be greyed out.

Data collection system - Process flow

Browse your computer to locate the file you wish to submit, and upload the file to the data collection system. 


  • Files can have any name
  • Files must be in XML and conform to the relevant XML Schema Definition (XSD) file
  • Files can be compressed using PKZip/WinZip which will significantly reduce the upload time
  • Only a single file can be held on the system.

B. Validation

Automated validation checks (quality rules) will now run.

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

The Quality rules report will contain the details of any rules triggered by the submission. Make any necessary amendments to the data and resubmit the file to the system. To pass validation, the file must not trigger any validation errors.

You can run some of these validation checks through our validation kit before submitting data to the data collection system. The kit enables you to test your data locally against schema and business stage validation rules prior to submission. You are strongly encouraged to use the validation kit as part of your data preparations.

Remember that you need to process and pass the business-stage validation in order to meet the requirements of the return deadline.

How to obtain a switch

When errors are triggered in the Data Collection system but the data has been checked and is genuine, you need to request a switch. This is because your file will not pass the validation requirements of the collection deadlines if there are any remaining errors.

Please email your switch request to Liaison, stating which rule is causing the error to be triggered and for how many records, together with an explanation as to why the data is genuine.

This will then be forwarded to your funding council/regulator for them to review. They may agree the switch, ask for more information or state how they wish the data to be returned so that an error is no longer triggered.

This request should be sent well in advance of any deadline, to allow sufficient time for a decision to be made.

When a switch has been agreed, it will be applied to your data for the count specified and the data will be reprocessed. This will resolve the error.

If the count increases, the rule will be triggered again, and you will need to request that the count on the switch be increased. This will be forwarded to your funding council/regulator for approval.

To proceed to the next stage in the submission process, a valid file needs to have been submitted. The data will then be classed as 'committable' and the option to process a COMMIT transaction will be made available through the data collection system.  

Prior to committing data, you should review all of the reports produced on the data collection system and make any necessary corrections to the data.

The COMMIT transaction sends a copy of your submission to our data quality assurance team and, where appropriate, to the relevant funding council. We analyse your return in parallel with your own analysis.


A passed commit transaction will lock the system to prevent the data from being amended. This is to allow our data quality assurance team to analyse the submission. To unlock the system you will need to request a DECOMMIT transaction.

Request a decommit by email or on +44 (0)1242 388531

Remember that you need to process and pass a COMMIT transaction in order to meet the requirements of the commit deadline.

Once we have analysed your committed return, data quality queries will be posted onto the Issue Management System data quality database. Relevant users will be notified by email when these queries are available to view. The Issue Management System user guide provides help on using the Issue Management System.

Access the Issue Management System data quality database

Once your data has passed all the stages of validation, and any issues highlighted during credibility checking have been addressed, we will set the return to CREDIBLE. This produces the sign-off form.

When data is set to credible, a link to the sign-off form is automatically emailed to the head of the submitting organisation as well as the appropriate record contact. The form should be completed and signed by the head of the reporting organisation and returned to us by email or post. This verification offers both you and us assurances regarding onward use of the data.

Sign-off completes the data collection process.