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Aggregate offshore 2015/16: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2015/16 Aggregate offshore collection (C15052).

This should be used alongside the C15052 coding manual, which provides more detailed, technical information about the collection.

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

Aggregate offshore overview

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

The Aggregate Offshore stream collects data about students studying wholly outside the UK who are either registered with or studying for an award of a UK higher education provider. 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 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.

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 2016 C15052 data collection opens
30 September 2016 Return date
13 October 2016 Commit date
7 November 2016 Last submission
10 November 2016 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 388531 

Find out more about Liaison

Preparation guide

A summary of the changes to the Aggregate offshore record for 2015/16 since 2014/15 is available from the revision history on the C15052 coding manual. Any changes made to the 2015/16 Aggregate offshore record after the first release of the manual will also be documented here.

HESA Identity System

The data collection system for the C15052 collection as well as Minerva is governed through our Identity System (IDS).

The AOR record contact for each provider will have access to our data collection system and through 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 IDS User Guide provides detailed help with using our new single sign-on system.

Validation kit

The new validation kit for the 2014/15 Aggregate offshore 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.

Minerva queries

We expect you to respond to all Minerva queries within the collection window. As a guide we expect that these queries should be answered within 5 working days.

Derived field specifications     

Full details of the derived fields we use in analysis of the C15052 Aggregate offshore record data are available from the C15052 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: 22255 - Frequency counts

The amount of records returned is being displayed, rather than a headcount of students.

Fixed 15 August 2016 01 September 2016 (release 5)

Experiencing an issue not listed here? Let us know.

Release ID Release date Release summary
6 30 September 2016 Progress monitor added to dashboard page of the data collection system. This will advise whether you have met the key dates of the Return and the Commit dates.
5 01 September 2016 Provided fix for issue 22255 - Frequency counts
4 18 August 2016

Quality Rule amended:

  • C15052.Provision.Type.4
3 22 July 2016 New credibility reporting tables added:

  • Number of offshore students by type and level of provision (TYPE1)
  • Offshore students by geographic region and type of activity (CTRY1).

The "Commit" button has been activated, however we will not start credibility checking submissions until August.

2 12 May 2016

New quality rule added:

  • QR.C15052.Provision.TYPE.4.

28 April 2016

Validation kit released containing the following rules:

  • QR.C15052.Institution.Provision.1
  • QR.C15052.Provision.COUNTRY.1
  • QR.C15052.Provision.COUNTRY.2
  • QR.C15052.Provision.TYPE.1
  • QR.C15052.Provision.TYPE.2
  • QR.C15052.Provision.TYPE.3.

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.