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Key Information Set 2015/16: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2015/16 Key Information Set (KIS) collection (C15061).

This should be used alongside the C15061 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 KIS return to HEFCE.

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

Key Information Set overview

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

The Key Information Set (KIS) stream collects data about full-time and part-time undergraduate courses available for application for the next academic year. Details of what information needs 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 used in the government's Unistats tool. We also make 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
28 May 2015
C15061 data collection opens
Early July 2015
NSS and DLHE data added to the KIS
16 July 2015
Valid data submission required
6 August 2015 (12pm)
Deadline for sign-off of data to be included in provider preview
12 August 2015 - 28 August 2015
Data available for preview on Unistats website
27 August 2015 (12pm) Final deadline for sign-off prior to publication of new dataset on Unistats
2 September 2015
Update of Unistats website with 2015 dataset
Early September 2015 System re-opens for updates

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:

Adam from Liaison

Our expert analysts have a thorough understanding of our records and processes. We are here to support you throughout the data submission process.

Our KIS support is led by Adam, 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-KIS JISCMail list

If you encounter any problems, contact Liaison

Preparation guide

Documentation summarising the changes to the KIS record for 2015/16 is available from the C15061 coding manual. Please note that any changes made to the 2015/16 KIS record after the first release of the manual will be documented in the Revision history for the coding manual, so you should reference that webpage frequently.

Key changes for 2015/16

Data publication thresholds and aggregation for Unistats and the NSS changes

Further to the consultation run by HEFCE during the start of the year, the headcount or full-person equivalent (FPE) threshold for publication of student-level data on Unistats and for publicly available NSS data will be lowered from 23 to 10. Full details of the change can be found on the HEFCE website.

Data collection system

You will find a brand new user interface for our data collection system. There are also new validation reports available once a file has been submitted which will give you more information in clear and distinct panels for errors and warnings.

Data collection schedule

The schedule for data collection is included in the documentation in the coding manual. Note the interim deadlines prior to the final deadline for sign-off of data as follows:

  • All providers are required to have submitted a data file that passes validation by 16 July
  • Data must be signed off by 6 August for it to be available to preview prior to publication on the live Unistats website.

You are required to have signed off data for publication by noon on Thursday 6 August to allow a full preview on the Unistats site, to help ensure data quality. Where you identify data errors, or course details change during preview, you will need to resubmit and sign off updated data by noon on Thursday 27 August for the updates to be included on the site for publication.

Sign-off procedure

Data must be signed off by the head or acting head of the provider. The initial sign-off form can also be used (optionally) for the head of the provider to nominate an individual with responsibility for signing-off any updates to the KIS data made by the provider. Only the head of provider or their authorised delegate can sign-off any further data submitted.

Linking to HESACourses

HE providers are reminded that in order to link to relevant Student, DLHE and NSS data on Unistats, KISCourses must be linked to the appropriate HESA and / or ILR Course(s). Where this is not feasible, providers will need to return accurate JACS codes in the KIS course.

Validation Kit

The new validation kit for the 2015/16 KIS record is now available to download.

The validation kit enables you to run your data against first stage (business rule) validation ahead of submitting the file to the data collection system.

XML data entry tool

To assist you in completing the KIS return, we have made available a downloadable data entry tool. The XML data entry tool has been created in order to produce XML data in the format required for submission. It takes the data entered into it, validates it against the schema structure, and outputs a valid XML file for submission.

The tool is available to download from the C15061 Coding manual. Guidance on using it can also be found in the manual.

HESA Identity System

The KIS record contact for each provider will have access to our data collection system and through the IDS will be able to invite additional colleagues to also have access to the system to submit data and view reports. Please ensure that the correct roles are in place to ensure the necessary access required by colleagues ahead of the collection opening.

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

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: Known issues

Issue summary Date raised Date resolved

Issue 1: Quality rules - ACCTYPE

 QR.C15061.Accreditation.ACCTYPE.1  - accreditation type 19401 does not exist in the list of accrediting bodies and types.

  25 June 2016

Issue 2: Quality rules - REGUKPRN

 QR.C15061.HESACourse.REGUKPRN.1 - when multiple OTHERINST fields are returned. The rule seems to only register the first OTHERINST returned.

  9 July 2015

Issue 3: Quality rules - PROGID.8

 QR.C15061.KISCourse.UCASPROGID.8 - This rule is triggering incorrectly.  Please contact Liaison to discuss this issue.

  20 August 2015

Issue 4: NSS

 NSS Q23, NSS NHS Q29 Population(%) The check doc figure is the overall population per item, rather than a percentage.


Experiencing an issue not listed here? Let us know.

Stages of data submission


A. Sending data

Send data by clicking on ‘Send button' in the data collection system.

KIS data collection system

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 in the system.

B. Automated Validation

Automated validation checks will now run.

Further details on the quality rules applicable to this collection can be found on 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.

*Note: Corrections cannot be made online to the file submitted to the data collection system and instead must be made to the file held locally, and the file then resubmitted.

Where possible report for quality assurance will be produced even where validation errors exist.

*Note that the DLHE and NSS data will not be available until July and the Unistats output file will not be produced until then.

When all validation is complete the data is then considered as valid and this will be indicated in the data collection system

KIS data collection system

Deleting files

Where you need to make amendments to the data, the system will automatically delete the older version of the file once a new version has been submitted.

Why can't failed files be deleted?

Where a file fails validation the records contained within it are not uploaded to the HESA database and so will not be counted as part of the return.

Once the file has passed all stages of validation and the DLHE and NSS data is available, providers will have the option to 'approve the submission'. This will generate the-sign off form. A link to the sign-off form will automatically be emailed to the Head of the organisation when available. The form should be completed and signed by the Head or Acting Head of the reporting organisation and returned to HESA. This verification offers both the institutions and HESA assurances regarding onward use of the data. Sign-off completes the data collection process.

The initial sign-off form can also be used (optionally) for the Head of the institution to nominate an individual with responsibility for signing off any updates made by the provider to the KIS data after the submission deadline. Following publication of Unistats in September only the Head of organisation or the authorised delegate can sign off further data submitted.

Once the data has passed all the stages of validation, and all NSS and DLHE data is incorporated into the UNISTATS file, the sign-off form will become available.