Skip to main content

Aggregate offshore 2017/18: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2017/18 Aggregate offshore collection (C17052).

This should be used alongside the C17052 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

What is the Aggregate offshore stream?

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 fundng 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.

What is a coding manual?

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.

Data collection schedule (C17052)
Period Actions
August 2017 to March 2018 Providers' local preparation
April 2018 Validate data locally using validation kit
June 2018 Preparation guide released
August 2018 Data collection opens
30 September 2018 Return date
13 October 2018 Commit date
13 October to 7 November 2017 Data quality checking period
7 November 2017 Last submission
10 November 2017 Sign-off

Preparation guide

Collection news (C17052)

A summary of the changes to the Aggregate offshore record for 2017/18 since 2016/17 is available from the revision history on the C17052 coding manual. Any changes made to the 2017/18 Aggregate offshore record after the first release of the manual will also be documented here.

HESA Identity System

The data collection system for the C17052 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.


Reminders (C17052)

Validation kit

The new validation kit for the 2017/18 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 C17052 Aggregate offshore record data are available here.

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

Known issues (C17052)
Issue Summary Status Date raised Date resolved


Release history (C17052)
Release ID Release date Release Summary


Stages of data submission

Stage 1: Submitting and validating data

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.

Stage 2: Committing and decommitting data

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 HEFCE. 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 211144

Remember that you need to process and pass a COMMIT transaction in order to meet the requirements of the commit deadline.

Stage 3: Credibility checks

Once we have analysed your committed return, data quality queries will be posted onto the Minerva DQ database. Relevant users will be notified by email when these queries are available to view. The Minerva user guide provides help on using Minerva.

Access the Minerva Data Quality database

Stage 4: Sign off

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. The form should be completed and signed by the head or acting 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.