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AP student 2017/18: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2017/18 AP student collection (C17054).

This should be used alongside the C17054 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

What is the AP student stream?

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 HEFCE 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.

How do I submit data to HESA?

You submit data via our online 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, track the progress of your submission, view data quality issues and download reports. An overview of the submission and validation process is given below. Further details are provided in the Coding manual under the 'Submission process and quality assurance' section heading.

Submit data

Where can I find...?

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:

  • Preparation guide
  • Stream user guide
  • Data collection system: Known issues and release history.

In the Contact and support area of our site, 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 us section, you can find:

Where can I find further help with the AP student record? Who are Liaison?
Hannah from our liaison team

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

Our AP student support is led by Hannah, 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

AP student record JISCMail list

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 collection system: Release history and known issues

Known issues (C17054)
Issue Summary Status Date raised Date resolved

There are no known issues at present.

Release history (C17054)
Release ID Release date Release summary
64 16 March 2018

This release includes:

  • the first release of the data collection system - the quality rules, entry profile, credibility and data supply reports have been rolled forward. However please note that the 2017/18 changes have not yet been made, and it will currently look like it did in 2016/17. 
  • the downloadable validation kit, including a roll on of business rules, exceptions and continuity validation 
  • the XML data entry tool 

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. 

Entry Profile report – this report highlights where an entry profile has not been returned for an instance, and helps providers to identify whether this has been omitted accidently, or where the UHN link has been unintentionally broken. 

Credibility reports – these reports contain information from the AP Student record, which are broken down into categories of information.  These categories or “chapters” present relevant information in tables, which can then be analysed by HESA and providers, to check the accuracy of the data returned.

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. 

Upcoming releases (C17054)
Month Scheduled areas of work
2018 Coming soon...

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.