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Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education 2015/16: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2015/16 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) collection (C15018).

This should be used alongside the C15018 coding manual, which provides more detailed, technical information about the collection.

Please note, the information below is regarding the HESA data submission system and processes for HE providers. Further education colleges should refer to the HEFCE website for guidance on submitting their DLHE return to HEFCE.

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

Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education overview

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

The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) stream collects data about what students completing their higher education experience have gone on to do after six months. Details of which individuals 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 funding 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 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.

Our Destinations of Leavers support is led by Janet, although any member of our team will be able to help.

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-DLHE JISCmail list

If you encounter any problems, contact Liaison

Preparation guide

Changes to the record - updates to guidance

The summary of changes summarises the main changes to the DLHE record for 2015/16; this includes changes to EMPPAY, EMPHOURS and questionnaire changes for question 10.

Data collection system

The data collection system for the C15018 collection, as well as Minerva, is governed through our Identity System (IDS).

The DLHE record contact for each provider will have access to our data collection system and through the IDS will be able to grant access for themselves and invite additional colleagues to also have access to the system to submit data and view reports.

The Identity System user guide provides detailed help with using our new single sign-on system.

Bristol Online Survey (BOS)

For the 2015/16 collection of DLHE, the online survey will be supplied through Bristol Online Surveys (BOS).

The DLHE BOS user guide is available to help with the setting up of the survey, as well as analysing the results.

Response rates

To supply the sector with the best possible statistics, providers are required to meet specific target response rates for the DLHE Survey. All providers are expected to meet, or exceed these thresholds and we carry out extensive data quality checks to monitor both short and long term success in this regard. The target response rates are:

  • 80% for UK-domiciled (i.e. home) leavers who previously studied full-time
  • 70% for UK-domiciled leavers who studied part-time
  • 80% for Research Council-funded students
  • 50% for all other EU students
  • 20% for non-EU international leavers.

The response rates for the DLHE survey are set to ensure that detailed data can be published and that the results of the survey genuinely reflect the outcomes for students gaining HE qualifications. Therefore, while response rates are set at the provider level, providers should seek to ensure that as far as possible the target threshold is met for all courses, and also that response rates are uniform across all student and course characteristics. In particular, specific groups of students should only be targeted for additional follow-up where response rates in previous years have been significantly lower than the provider's average. Providers must also ensure that they return a record to us for all leavers where they receive a valid response.

SIC coding

Providers are encouraged to avoid populating the SIC field with default codes as this will delay the central coding processes undertaken by our contractor.

Validation kit

Our new validation kit for the 2015/16 DLHE data is now available to download. A user guide for the kit is available from the same link. The new kit has both increased functionality and a greatly improved processing speed. This allows users earlier access to validation processes and to test against a wider set of quality rules. Please note that if you have a previous version of the validation kit it will not be updated to include the C15018 quality rules. You will need to download the new validation kit.

Credibility report

You are reminded that responsibility for data quality rests with providers; we aim to help providers in ensuring your data is of the highest quality through the provision of the credibility report. You are therefore advised to ensure that sufficient time is spent examining the credibility report produced through a commit, to check that errors have not been introduced that would cause any degradation to data quality. As you are in a better position than us to recognise more detailed anomalies within your data, using local knowledge of the intricacies of your own organisations, you are strongly encouraged to closely scrutinise the credibility reports.

Responding to Minerva queries

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.

As a guide we expect that these queries should be answered within 5 working days.

We expect you to have responded 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.

System releases and known issues

We provide information about the releases of the system to date, planned system releases and known issues with the collection system and the BOS DLHE survey system.

All reported issues are available on the Known issues section of this page. This includes both fixed and open issues we are aware of.

Record contact changes

The record contact is the first point of communication during data collection. Access to the data collection system is 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.

For the 2015/16 DLHE collection the online survey platform will be supplied through the newly replatformed Bristol Online Surveys (BOS). In October, we announced that it would not be possible to retain precisely the same output file format as previous years. This documents provides details of changes to the output file specification. The online DLHE file layout coding manual page, usually published in March, has also been published in an ad-hoc coding manual release, in order to provide providers and software houses with sufficient notice to make any required changes.

  • Files will be available in comma separated value (CSV) and fixed length format, but not XML. The BOS system also offers downloads in Microsoft Excel (.XLSX, .XLS), SPSS (.SAV) and tab separated value (TSV); however, HESA will only maintain the output specification for CSV and fixed length format.
  • A separate export file will be provided for the incomplete surveys. Therefore the INCOMPLETE_SURVEY flag will no longer be included
  • TIMESTMP will include the letters ‘UTC’. This extends the field length from 19 to 23.
  • STATUS will no longer complete with ‘XX’ if the file is incomplete. Instead, for all online surveys, STATUS will be ‘04’. Therefore if a HE provider follows up an incomplete survey through an alternative methodology such as a phone call, STATUS should be updated to reflect this.
  • For providers who do not offer teacher training provision, Section C (Newly qualified teacher status only) will not be included in the questionnaire, and therefore will no longer show in the output file. Therefore for these providers, the following columns will no longer be included in the output file:
    • NONQTS
    • Q20 Teaching.EMPLDTEACH
    • Q21 Teaching.GTCSTIS
    • Q22 Teaching.TEACHFUND
    • Q23 Teaching.TEACHPHS
    • Q24Teaching.SEEKTEACH

Data collection & BOS Survey systems: Release history and known issues

Following the adoption of the BOS platform for the C15018 DLHE survey we have received feedback from the sector on the structure and functionality of the survey.
Whilst we have not been able to adopt all of your suggestions for the C16018 DLHE survey we have made a number of changes. We have put those relevant to the HESA system in the standard Notification of Changes page on the HESA website, but the others which are changes to the surveys hosted on the BOS platform are detailed below with timeframes.
As these will cause changes to the output files it is imperative that you extract your output files from your C15018 surveys before 14 March 2017. After this date they will still be accessible but may not be in the previously published output structure.

Previously advised in Notification of changes

For all templates, we have added a new question:
“Q14; Is this organisation part of the NHS?"  - As a result of this we have re-numbered the questions which follow question 14.

For questions 26 and 27 we have made changes to the text of the questions:
Q26 – TYPEQUAL (formally Q25) – example of PGDE added to “Postgraduate diploma or certificate (including PGCE/PGDE)” Also in notification of changes.
Q27 – COURSENAME (formally Q26) – survey date added to question for clarity: “What is the name of the course you were registered on 12 April 2017 (e.g. MSc in Interactive Media)?”

All surveys

Country List

We have updated the valid entries country list and it now follows the National Statistics country classification (NSCC) rather than the previous NSCC / ISO 3166 hybrid. This has been applied to the Country and EMPCOUNTRY fields. Please note while the names of the countries may be slightly different the values produced in the output file will be unchanged.

Teaching and Non-Teaching Templates

Personal Details page

Following feedback on the personal details page we have now broken this into two pages

Page 1 contains the following fields:

  • Forename
  • Surname
  • Student number – n.b. this continues to be an optional field.

Page 2 contains the remainder, as well as a note advising these fields are optional and only for updating the student’s details:

  • Country
  • Address line 1
  • Address line 2
  • Address line 3
  • Town/City
  • County/Region/State
  • Postcode / Zip code
  • Telephone
  • E-Mail address
  • Title of course studied
EMPPAY Validation

The validation which is applied to the field has been changed to trigger if the calculated hourly rate is less than £7.05 per hour rather than £6.50 in the previous year.

Telephone Template

New fields

We have added four new fields to help record details of the telephone survey:

  • Name of person making the call – name of member of staff making the call, Free text 80 characters
  • Name of Person spoken to – name of the person who answered the phone, Free text 80 characters
  • Time of call – time the call was made, Free text 16 characters, but suggested format is YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm
  • Data Source – this is the field which outputs as STATUS. It is accessible on the telephone survey and offers the following choices:
    • Standard questionnaire
    • Telephone survey: HE leaver
    • Telephone survey: third party
    • HEP's student record
    • HEP third party
    • Deceased
    • Reply received explicitly refusing to provide information
Changes to the order

We have moved the field Student number to sit after surname to follow a more logical model.

Timeframes and output files

In order to provide this additional information to you there will now be two output files, one for the Teaching & Non-Teaching templates and the other for the Telephone survey. We will notify you with full details of these before the April survey starts.
As these changes may affect the current output file, we have been working with BOS to minimise risk to the on-going C15018 survey. Therefore, we will not make any changes to the surveys until 14 March 2017; this will allow you to download all your responses to the C15018 survey. Work on the system is planned to be finished before 7 April to allow you to access the system.

Onward Development

We are aware of additional requests for development and have logged these, but were unable to incorporate them into the changes for this year’s survey. We will keep you advised of any future development, especially as we move towards the NewDLHE collection.

Issue summary Status Date raised Date resolved

Issue ID - 41530 Credbility Reports

To use the drill down functionality on the credibility reports please always go into the chapters by clicking on the 'view' button; you can then use the blue triangles to view the figures. If this method is not followed then you will experience issues with this information displaying.

Open 09 August 2017  

31512 - QR.C15018.Employment.EMPPAY.3 is triggering if the input value is less than £80,000

Resolved 2017/03/03  2017/03/09
31639 - C15018: RESP1, RESP3 and TCH1 shading rule triggering incorrectly when response rate is 0 but so it is the survey popoulation Resolved 2017/03/08 2017/03/09

Experiencing an issue not listed here? Let us know.

Issue summary Status Date raised Date resolved
Planned maintenance of the BOS system, 0930 until 1030 on Tuesday 15th November - system may be affected. Resolved 2016-11-11 2016-11-15

Janet system updates every Tuesday 0700 until 0900, system may be affected

On going 2016-10-23  
University of Bristol is undertaking network improvements on Wednesday 14 December, 0800 until 0900. There is a small risk that BOS may be inaccessible during this window. Resolved 2016-12-13 2016-12-14
Custom download - mapping issue on question 4 "Data Source" - the responses not being mapped correctly for the "Status" field for the responses; HEP's student record, HEP third party, Deceased & Reply received explicitly refusing to provide information.


2017-05-04 2017-05-11

Experiencing an issue not listed here? Let us know.

Release date Release summary

In this release:

  • Commit and Sign off are now available
  • New feature of Credibility reporting - Drill down on the following tables:
    • ESTE1
    • LOCE1
    • PAY1
    • PAY2
    • PAY3
    • RESP1
    • RESP3
    • RESP7
    • SOC2
    • SOC3
    • TCH1
    • TCH4



The following reports and tools are now available:

  • CASCOT Tool is available for download
  • CASCOT report
  • SIC report



Solutions to issues:

  • 31512 - QR.C15018.Employment.EMPPAY.3 is triggering if the input value is less than £80,000
  • 31639 - C15018: RESP1, RESP3 and TCH1 shading rule triggering incorrectly when response rate is 0 but so it is the survey popoulation



First release of the submission system.

HEP are able to submit to the system and have their submitted data run against all of the quality rules for the C15018 collection, at both the Business Rule and the Exception rule change.

The following reports are also available and are produced following successful submission of data:

  • Quality Rules Report, including quality rules compare
  • Match report
  • Credibility reports - 70 tables
  • Frequency counts
  • Data supply
  • Unistats reports.

Additional reports and Commit functionality will follow shortly.

Promoting DLHE

Raising the profile of DLHE can be achieved through targeted and comprehensive promotion.

There are many different ways of promoting DLHE. Which ones are used will depend on the type of organisation:

DLHE promotion

Internal publicity

Displaying promotional material such as eye-catching posters and results charts on notice boards and within the students' union will raise the profile of DLHE so future leavers are aware of what it is and why it is important to respond.

You may also wish to consider promoting DLHE within staff areas. Staff buy-in can be an important tool in increasing response rates due to the information they possess about student destinations and contact details.

Graduation ceremonies

Graduation ceremonies are an ideal opportunity to promote DLHE. They are a chance to encourage graduates to update contact details and remind them that they will receive a survey soon and why it is important to complete it.

You could consider including a poster or flyer in graduation packs. Including the information in packs that guests receive will further raise awareness of the survey and might help with third party responses.

Graduate contact

Contacting leavers through the careers service is a good way of offering leavers support whilst simultaneously updating contact and employment information. Regular alumni events are also an opportunity promote DLHE.

Poster, flyer and postcard designs

We have produced a range of downloadable designs which you can use to publicise and promote DLHE. The designs are available to download for free in A3, A4 and A6.  

Design 1 Design 2 Design 3 Design 4

A3 Poster (pdf)

A4 Poster (pdf)

A6 Postcard (pdf)

A3 Poster (pdf)

A4 (pdf)

A6 Postcard (pdf)

A3 Poster (pdf)

A4 Poster (pdf)

A6 Postcard (pdf)

A3 Poster (pdf)

A4 Poster (pdf)

A6 Postcard (pdf)

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.