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AP student 2015/16: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2015/16 AP student collection (C15054).

This should be used alongside the C15054 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.

Period Actions
August 2015 to July 2016 Data capture and collation
February 2016 Data collection system opens
September 2016 Full data collection system available
07 October 2016 Providers are required to have submitted complete data and passed business stage validation
24 October 2016 Providers are advised to send completed data that has passed exception stage validation
24 October to 28 November 2016 Data quality checking period
28 November 2016 Last submission of data
5 December 2016 Sign-off of data submission

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.

Changes to the record - updates to guidance

You should consult the Revision History page of the coding manual for a full technical list of changes to the C15054 record specifications.

A significant amount of change has occurred since C14054 including schema changes, changes to the coverage and clarification to existing guidance.

We issue regular communications during the life of a collection. For a summary of all communications associated with the 2015/16 AP Student collection please see the Notification Log.

Accessing the data collection system

Access to the data collection system for the C15054 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 C15054 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 C15054 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 2015/16 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 C15054 AP student data are available from the C15054 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: 26568 - Quality rules

QR.C15054.Instance.COMDATE.5 is triggering correctly but is not displaying the Instance.COMDATE value reported in a previous collection.

Fixed 11 November 2016 25 November 2016 (release 29)

Issue ID: 26567 - Quality rules

QR.C15054.StudentEquality.ETHNIC.3 is triggering correctly but is not displaying the StudentEquality.ETHNIC value reported in a previous collection.

Fixed 11 November 2016 25 November 2016 (release 29)

Issue ID: 26566 - Quality rules

QR.C15054.Student.SSN.8 is triggering correctly however the column headers do not line up with the data. The value currently shown in the column labelled 'HUSID' is the Student.SSN value reported in a previous year, the Student.HUSID is displayed in the next column.

Fixed 11 November 2016 25 November 2016 (release 29)

Issue ID: 26565 - Quality rules

QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QUALENT3.6 is triggering correctly however the column headers are incorrect. The column labelled 'NAMECAT' contains the EntryProfile.QUALENT3 value reported in a previous year.

Fixed 11 November 2016 25 November 2016 (release 29)

Issue ID: 25641 - Credibility report

Tables SSN1 and SSN2 are unable to display for some providers.

Fixed 24 October 2016 28 October 2016 (release 27)

Issue ID: 24566 - Schema validation

QualificationsOnEntry.QUALYEAR =2016 was not recognised as valid in schema. This has now been corrected in both the coding manual and validation.

Fixed 23 September 2016 28 September 2016 (release 25)

Issue ID: 22989 - Quality rules

QR.C15054.QualificationsAwarded.QUAL.6 triggering incorrectly where a single qualification exists.

Fixed 24 August 2016 28 September 2016 (release 25)

Issue ID: 22988 - Quality rules

QR.C15054.Instance.InstancePeriod.1 triggering incorrectly where only a single instance period exists.

Fixed 22 August 2016 5 September 2016 (release 23)

Issue ID: 16983 - Quality rules

QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.STULOAD.11 is triggering correctly but is displaying the wrong value for InstancePeriod.COURSEID in some cases

Fixed 25 May 2016 28 September 2016 (release 25)

Issue ID: 3171 - Validation kit, Quality rules

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

Open 8 February 2016  

Issue ID: 11268 - Validation kit

The new QualificationsOnEntry.QUALSBJ codes added to the schema are not recognised by the kit

Fixed 29 January 2016 4 February 2016 (release 8)

Issue ID: 15068 - HUSID

HUSID calculations are not taking into account INSTIDs for new providers in 2015/16

Fixed 22 April 2016 29 April 2016 (release 14)

Issue ID: 15048 - Validation kit and quality rules

HEAPESPOP code N/A not currently recognised by system and validation

Fixed 22 April 2016 29 April 2016 (release 14)

Issue ID: 24995 - Validation kit and quality rules

QR.C15054.Instance.COMDATE.6 is triggering incorrectly for students where the COMDATE is before the 1st of August 2015.

Fixed 5 October 2016 14 October 2016 (release 26)

Experiencing an issue not listed here? Let us know.

Release ID Release date Release summary25
28 10 November 2016

This release includes:

  • The NSS report - this is the National Student Survey population and includes the list of students that are eligible to be surveyed from February 2017 and also details the students who are not eligible. Providers are encouraged to review the reports to ensure that the population is as expected.
  • Additional Continuity stage warnings - these are only applicable to those providers who submitted data in the 2014/15 record and highlight cases where data has changed between years.
  • The ability to download the Credibility report to Excel. The tables can be downloaded individually or as a whole through the report itself.
27 28 October 2016 This release includes the sign-off functionality. Once all queries and issues are resolved, providers will be able to sign-off their data to complete the submission process.
26 14 October 2016 This release includes the Data Supply report. This report gives you a copy of your data back but also includes all the derivations that we apply to the data so that you can recreate the Credibility tables and produce your own management information reports. Data supply includes both Excel and XML files so that you can either import directly into your system or utilise the reports locally to create pivot tables and charts.
25 28 September 2016

All Credibility reporting tables are now available for use in quality assurance. With the release of these reports we have also enabled the 'commit' button for providers that have successfully uploaded a file that passes schema, business, exception and continuity stage rules. The commit action notifies HESA that you are ready for ourselves and HEFCE to start quality checking your submission. Providers are required to process a commit transaction by 24 October. If you have any questions about the commit process or the data collection schedule please contact the Liaison team.

A number of fixes to known issues have also been released and they are detailed in the Known issues page.

25a 20 September 2016

This release includes all remaining quality rules (exception and continuity stage):

  • QR.C15054.Provider.UKPRN.2
  • QR.C15054.Provider.UKPRN.3
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QUALENT3.3
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QUALENT3.4
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QUALENT3.5
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.DOMICILE.8
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.DOMICILE.9
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.POSTCODE.7
  • QR.C15054.Student.HUSID.2
  • QR.C15054.Instance.COMDATE.1
  • QR.C15054.Instance.COMDATE.2
  • QR.C15054.Instance.COMDATE.3
  • QR.C15054.Instance.COMDATE.4
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.ETHNIC.5
  • QR.C15054.Course.COURSEAIM.4
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.PERIODSTART.6
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.14

An update has also been made to the HEFCE designation file that is used in validation.

Future releases will address a number of bugs that are currently listed in the Known Issues page.

24 14 September 2016

This release includes the following business and exception stage rules:

  • QR.C15054.Instance.ENDDATE.2
  • QR.C15054.Instance.ENDDATE.3
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.3
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QUALENT3.10
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QUALENT3.11
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QUALENT3.12
  • QR.C15054.QualificationsOnEntry.QUALGRADE.2
  • QR.C15054.QualificationsOnEntry.QUALGRADE.3
  • QR.C15054.QualificationsOnEntry.QUALGRADE.4
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.POSTCODE.4
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.POSTCODE.6
  • QR.C15054.Course.COURSEAIM.5
  • QR.C15054.Course.COURSEAIM.6
  • QR.C15054.Course.COURSEAIM.7
  • QR.C15054.CourseSubject.SBJCA.6
  • QR.C15054.CourseSubject.SBJCA.8
  • QR.C15054.CourseSubject.SBJCA.9
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.LOCSDY.9
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.MSTUFEE.10
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.MSTUFEE.11
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.MSTUFEE.12
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.13
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.SSELIG.3
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.SSELIG.4
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.SSELIG.9
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.SSELIG.10
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.SSELIG.11
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.SSELIG.12
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.PRIPROV.5

  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.YEARPRG.6

  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.4
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.MODE.7
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.MODE.8
  • QR.C15054.Instance.COMDATE.6
  • QR.C15054.Instance.UNITLGTH.1
  • QR.C15054.Instance.UNITLGTH.2
  • QR.C15054.Instance.UNITLGTH.3
  • QR.C15054.Instance.SPLENGTH.1
  • QR.C15054.Instance.SPLENGTH.2
  • QR.C15054.Student.BIRTHDTE.10
  • QR.C15054.Student.EntryProfile.2
  • QR.C15054.Student.HUSID.4
  • QR.C15054.Student.SSN.4
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.DISABLE.4
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.ETHNIC.6
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.ETHNIC.7
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.SEXID.2
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.SEXORT.3
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.SEXORT.4

Additionally this includes the first release of Continuity stage validation. Continuity validation looks for inconsistencies at record level between data from the previous year and incoming data and will therefore only be applicable to those providers who submitted data to HESA in the 2014/15 reporting year. These rules will appear in the Quality rules report with a stage of 'Continuity' but will not appear in the validation kit. The three Continuity stage rules included in this release are:

  • QR.C15054.Instance.NUMHUS.2
  • QR.C15054.Instance.NUMHUS.3
  • QR.C15054.RSNEND.5

This is the first release of the Credibility report which contains management information tables used for quality assurance. There are more tables to come in future releases and you are encouraged to review these tables to ensure that they reflect the profile of your organisation.

23 05 September 2016

This release includes the following quality rules:

  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.2
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.4
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.6
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.8
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.14
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.15
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.16
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.LOCSDY.2
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QUALENT3.8
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.QUALENT3.9
  • QR.C15054.Instance.RSNEND.1
  • QR.C15054.Instance.RSNEND.2
  • QR.C15054.Instance.RSNEND.4
  • QR.C15054.Student.SSN.6
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.STULOAD.6
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.STULOAD.7
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.STULOAD.8
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.STULOAD.9
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.STULOAD.11
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.STULOAD.13
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.STULOAD.14
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.SSELIG.2
  • QR.C15054.Course.COURSEAIM.1
  • QR.C15054.Course.COURSEAIM.2
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.DISALL.5
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.DISALL.6
  • QR.C15054.Instance.ENDDATE.1
  • QR.C15054.Instance.ENDDATE.5
  • QR.C15054.Instance.ENDDATE.6
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.PREVINST.4
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.DOMICILE.2
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.POSTCODE.5
  • QR.C15054.Instance.InstancePeriod.1
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.1
21 4 August 2016

This release includes the following quality rules:

  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.LOCATION.1
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.LOCATION.2
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.NETFEE.2.
20 28 July 2016

This release includes the following business rules:

  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.2
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.3
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.4
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.6
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.NATION.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.RELBLF.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.SEXID.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.SEXORT.1.
19 8 July 2016

This release includes a number of updates to existing business rules:

  • QR.C15054.Instance.InstancePeriod.2
  • QR.C15054.Instance.RSNEND.3
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.DISALL.1
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.GROSSFEE.3
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.LOCSDY.7
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.LOCSDY.8
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.MSTUFEE.1
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.MSTUFEE.2
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.PRIPROV.3
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.SSELIG.6
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.GENDERID.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.ETHNIC.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.ETHNIC.2
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.DISABLE.2
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.DISABLE.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.NATION.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.RELBLF.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.SEXID.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.SEXORT.1
  • QR.C15054.CourseSubject.SBJCA.7
  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.PREVINST.1.

The changes to these rules are largely behind the scenes and represent an update to how we determine designation status.

There are additionally a number of new business rules included in the release:

  • QR.C15054.Instance.InstancePeriod.5
  • QR.C15054.Instance.InstancePeriod.6
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.7
  • QR.C15054.Course.COURSEAIM.12
  • QR.C15054.Course.COURSEAIM.13.
18 27 June 2016

This release includes the new exception stage rule QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.12.

In addition there has been some 'behind the scenes' work on the validation kit to enable us to release a greater proportion of rules through the validation kit rather than being available only on the data collection system. New rules will start to be released in the coming weeks.

17 9 June 2016

The following rules have been amended:

  • QR.C15054.QualificationsAwarded.QUAL.7
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.9
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.10
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.LOCATION.3
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.SSELIG.5.

The following new rules have been added:

  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.MODE.9 
  • QR.C15054.Course.TTCID.3.
16 27 May 2016

This release includes:

  • An update to the designated course list that is used in validation. This means that providers who were previously failing validation either on the validation kit or through the data collection system for courses that have designation should now pass validation.
  • A number of exception rules have been updated in the Quality rules page on the coding manual. Although these rules are not available in the data collection system yet, this means that you are able to have advanced sight of the rules that will be coming shortly. 

The 'AP student Admin' role can now be requested in the Identity System. This role allows the user to grant the Submitter, Guest and Query roles to other colleagues within the organisation.

14 29 April 2016

This release includes:

  • Fixes for issues 15068 and 15048.
13 15 April 2016

This release includes:

  • An update to the Entry Profile report to enable providers to continue processing and access other reports where Entry Profile errors exist. This should allow providers more flexibility to prioritise their work.
  • An update to QR.Student.SSN.3 to remove the reference to InstancePeriod.SSELIG
12 4 April 2016 This release includes:

The DLHE population report

  • Once a schema valid file is uploaded the DLHE population report will be generated. This report provides a list of the students eligible for inclusion in the 2015/16 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey. More information on the DLHE survey can be found here.

The Entry profile report

  • This report highlights any records that have been submitted without Entry Profile data. For those providers who submitted data in 2014/15 a check will be made to ensure that all continuing students have Entry Profile data from the previous year.
11 22 March 2016

This release includes:

  • The first release of the data collection system, including the quality rules currently available in the downloadable validation kit and the Frequency counts report.

Please note that access to the data collection system is governed by the Identity system. Users will need to ensure that they have the relevant permissions attached to their Identity system account in order to access the data collection system

10 3 March 2016

This release includes:

  • An update to the validation kit to include the two new QualificationsOnEntry.QUALGRADE codes PA* and Absent.
 09 19 February 2016

This release includes updates to the following quality rules:

  • QR.C15054.EntryProfile.PREVINST.1
  • QR.C15054.Instance.RSNEND.3
  • QR.C15054.Instance.SPLENGTH.3
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.GROSSFEE.3
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.MSTUFEE.1
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.DISALL.1
  • QR.C15054.Student.StudentEquality.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.DISABLE.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.DISABLE.2
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.ETHNIC.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.ETHNIC.2
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.GENDERID.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.NATION.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.RELBLF.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.SEXID.1
  • QR.C15054.StudentEquality.SEXORT.1
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.LOCSDY.7
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.LOCSDY.8
  • QR.C15054.InstancePeriod.PRIPROV.3.
 08 4 February 2016

This release includes:

  • The first issue of the validation kit for C15051. It contains the rolled on business rules for 2015/16 less any rules requiring amendment
  • The XML data entry tool for the 2015/16 return is also included in this release.

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.