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KIS record 2014/15

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Quick start guide

Version 1.1 Produced 2014-06-19

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 HESA Institutional Liaison team (for HEPs) or the HEFCE KIS team (for FECs).


Navigating the website

The menu bar 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 menu bar 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 present providers with all the necessary documentation associated with the record requirements. The coding manuals can be accessed by selecting the 'Data Collection' option from the menu bar 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 providers making the return, and those using the data. If you are new to HESA, the 'Overview' section of the coding manual, which contains the Introduction page and 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.

Each data item for the record has its own specification containing the information required in completing the field. For those less familiar with XML and the HESA records these pages can be difficult to navigate. To assist providers a document titled understanding the data items pages is available which contains explanations of the terms used within the individual data items pages.

Coverage of the record

Which courses are included in the KIS 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?

Providers must include all eligible courses on which they will register new students in the next academic year. For example, the 2012/13 KIS collection reports on courses recruiting for the academic year August 2012 to July 2013.

Completing the return

What online resources are available to support me in completing 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 providers are familiar with the coding manual and make frequent reference to it when completing the return.

An Excel submission template will be made available from the coding manual landing page to assist providers in creating the XML file for submission. The Excel template allows providers to enter their data into a spread sheet and provides instructions on how to convert the completed template into XML format. Additional guidance and support with using XML can be found in the Help with the data collection system area of the HESA website.

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/HEFCE?

Data for the KIS record is collected prospectively, therefore reporting in May-August on courses that will be recruiting in August of the following year. Data for HEPs will be returned to HESA through the Data Collection System and FECs will return data to the HEFCE extranet.

Both the HESA data collection system and the HEFCE extranet open in late May and providers are required to have sent a full and verified set of data by the deadline for last submission. There are several deadlines which providers must achieve as part of the submission process and these are detailed in the Timescales document in the coding manual. It is important that providers work to the deadlines set in order to complete the return on time and to ensure that the data quality is fit for purpose. Once the record has passed all stages of validation you will be invited to sign-off the submission. The submission will normally be signed-off by the head of organisation, in signing off the record the head of organisation is confirming that the record has been compiled in accordance with the specification and that all outputs produced from the system are correct and as expected.

Following the initial submission of KIS data the HESA data collection system and HEFCE extranet will re-open to enable providers to submit updated or amended data for inclusion on UNISTATS. In order for the amended data to be published the data will need to be signed-off again.


The XML file submitted by provider is subjected to several different stages of validation during the submission and quality assurance processes. For KIS, these stages are as follows:

1.     INSERT-stage

2.     COMMIT-stage validation (exception)

3.     UNISTATS-stage validation

The INSERT-stage validation combines schema checks which ensure that the XML file is ‘well formed' and conforms to the schema definition and the business rule checks with apply logic to the records submitted. Business rules can only be carried out when all structural errors (schema checks) have been resolved. Schema errors can be difficult to understand as they are written in a technical XML language. Guidance to assist providers in understanding schema errors is available from the Help with the data collection system area of the HESA website.

The COMMIT-stage validation applies the business logic across the file as a whole and also includes checks on the fields that use a look-up table (such as KISAIM) and items that use static data from other returns such as the HESA Student record and the ILR.

The UNISTATS-stage validation is applied once all COMMIT-stage errors have been resolved and these look at the level of aggregation in the UNISTATS dataset.

A downloadable validation kit is released in the spring and can be downloaded from: Validation kits. The kit enables providers to test their data locally against the insert-stage validation ahead of the main collection opening. Providers are strongly encouraged to use the validation kit as part of their data preparations.

Data submission (information specific to HEPs)

How is data submitted to HESA?

Data is submitted to HESA through the online data collection system known as 'Aardvark'. Once users have access to 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 documentation.

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.

What is the role of the record contact?

For each of the data streams returned to HESA the provider must nominate a record contact. This person will be the point of contact for HESA and will receive operational documentation such as the access and PIN codes which enable registration for the data collection system, alongside data quality queries, updates and consultation documents. Whilst the record contact may not necessarily be the person submitting the data they are responsible for overseeing the process and ensuring that deadlines are acheived and the submission progresses. 

HESA will liaise with the record contact during data collection and some specific information, such as the access and PIN codes, 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 provider is requested to nominate a contact for each record and provide full contact details. There may be changes to the contacts within year however and providers are requested to notify Institutional Liaison of any changes as soon as possible. In the future it will be possible for this process to be managed entirely within the provider through the IDS.

Who do I contact for help?

HEPs should contact the HESA Institutional Liaison team for assistance. 

Data submission (information specific to FECs)

How is data submitted to HESA (FECs only)?

The KIS data is uploaded to the HEFCE extranet and the KIS Submission System Group Keys required to register an account are distributed to providers at the end of May. A separate Group Key for the sign-off is sent separately to the Head of the organisation.

Who do I contact for help?

FECs should contact the HEFCE KIS team  for assistance. 





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