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Unistats 2017/18: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2017/18 Unistats collection (C17061).

This should be used alongside the C17061 coding manual, which provides more detailed, technical information about the collection.

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

Unistats overview

What is the Unistats stream?

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

The Unistats 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 are included in the Coverage document found in the Coding manual.

The data we collect on behalf of the sector is provided for use on the government's Unistats website. The data is also available to the public as an open dataset 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?

The collection database opens on the HESA data collection system (for HE providers) and the HEFCE extranet (for FECs). HEFCE will send out separate communications regarding data collection to Unistats contacts.

For HESA Subscribers only:

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.

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 Unistats?

HESA subscribers only:

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

Our Unistats support is led by Ruth, 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

Further education colleges only:

HEFCE provide support for all further education colleges and assistance can be provided via email ([email protected]) or on 0117 931 7273.

Unistats 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-Unistats JISCMail list

If you encounter any problems, contact Liaison

Preparation guide: HESA subscribers only

Collection News (C17061)

The C17061 Notification of Changes outlines the changes to the 2017/18 collection. Any changes made to the 2017/18 Unistats record after the first release of the manual will be documented in the Revision History so providers should references this web page also.

Key Changes for 2017/18

Record Name

This record was previously known as the Key Information Set (KIS). For 2017/18, the name of the record has been changed to Unistats.

Removal of fields

Several fields have been removed from the collection for 2017/18. These include those which collected data regarding fees, learning and teaching methods and accommodation costs. A full list of fields which have been removed can be found in the Notification of Changes.


The Distance Learning field has been expanded to include a new valid entry for courses which are optionally available through distance learning.


Due to the removal of the Course Stage entity, this field now collects the length of a full-time course in years.

Reminders (C17061)

Validation kit

The HESA validation kit is available to download from the validation kit page. The kit enables providers to run their data against first stage (business rule) validation ahead of submitting the file to the data collection system.

XML Data entry tool

To assist providers in completing the Unistats return, HESA make available a downlodable data entry tool. The XML data entry tool is 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 C17061 coding manual and guidance on how to use the tool can be found in our data entry tool user guide.

HESA Identity System

Access to the data collection system is governed through the HESA Identity System (IDS). The Unistats Record Contact at each provider will be able to invite additional colleagues to have access to the system through the IDS. Please ensure that the correct roles are in place to allow the necessary access required by colleagues ahead of the collection opening. The Identity System user guide provides detailed help with using HESA's signle sign-on system.

Record Contacts changes

The Record Contact is the first point of communication during the data collection and access to the Data Collection System (through the HESA Identity System) is managed by this nominated contact. If you are unsure who your Record Contact is, or the details of the contact have changed, please contact [email protected] to ensure that this is up to date and that the appropriate contact receives any necessary communications.

Unistats record coverage

Details of which courses should and should not be included within the Unistats return can be found within the coverage statement. If any providers are unsure if their courses meet the coverage of the record or believe that they have no courses to return, please contact [email protected]

Collection Documents (C17061)

C17061 Data collection schedule

The full timescales for data collection can be viewed in the C17061 data collection schedule

25 May 2017 C17061 data collection system opens
Early July 2017 NSS and DLHE data added to the Unistats record
13 July 2017 Valid data submission required
03 August 2017 (12pm) Deadline for sign-off of data to be included in organisational preview
9 to 23 August 2017 Data available for preview on Unistats website
24 August 2017 (12pm) Final deadline for submission and sign-off prior to publication of new dataset on Unistats
4 September 2017 Update of Unistats website with 2017 dataset

Revision History

Providers should ensure that they refer to the most recent version of the coding manual. Any changes to the coding manual are listed within the Revision History.

Support Guides

The C17061 Support Guides provide key information about the return including an overview of the record and guidance around data submission.

Need help?

If you need any help please contact the HESA Liaison team at [email protected] or 01242 211144.

Further education colleges should in the first instance contact the HEFCE team by emailing [email protected]

Data collection system: Release history and known issues: HESA subscribers only

Known issues (C17061)
Issue summary Status Date raised Date resolved

Level of KISAIM code

KISCourse.KISAIM code 181 'Scottish First Degree' is currently listed as an undergraduate degree, but should instead be a first degree. 

Open 31 October 2017  

Checkdoc 2 and Upcoming deadlines

Minor typos and incorrect references have recently found in the scripts and code for the generation of tables 3 and 4 (Continutation and Classification data) which mean that all providers' data will need to be reprocessed. Details of these issues are as follows:

  1. Table 3 Continuation: year references in the code had been written the wrong way around. In effect, this had been written as ‘newest year joined to older year’ but should have been ‘older year joined to newest year’. This unfortunatley has affected the most recent years’ worth of data for both HEPs and APs.
  2. Table 4 Classification: For 2014/15 AP Student data, the code was incorrectly joining qualifications awarded data to 2015/16 AP Student data. So this needed to be updated in order to join correctly to the 2014/15 AP data. Note that this only affects APs.

Both of these issues have meant that providers potentially have missing data and therefore will need to be reprocessed.

Given the short timescale leading up to the sign-off date and preview period, it has been agreed between HESA and HEFCE that these dates will move in order to allow all providers more time in which to review their data. These new dates are as follows:


New Date

Previously advised date

Sign off deadline

Tues 8 August (midday)

Thurs 3 August (midday)

Preview begins

Mon 14 August (10am)

Weds 9 August

Preview ends

Fri 25 August

Weds 23 August

Sign off deadline for amendments prior to publication

Tues 29 August (midday)

Thurs 24 August (midday)

Live publication of dataset

Mon 4 September

No change

Closed 28 July 2017 August 2017

Checkdoc 2: DLHE & NSS

Since the go-live last week to include DLHE & NSS data, a few issues have arisen which mean that all providers' data will be reprocessed. In more detail, the issues and impact on the C17061 record are as follows:

  1. DLHE tables were incorrectly not referencing the most recent year of AP Student data (C15054) and so this was not being accounted for or displayed in Checkdoc. This will only affect Alternative Providers.
  2. NSS data (table 8) was being double counted during the aggregation process for subject levels 1, 2 and 3, causing higher figures in Checkdoc than might be expected. Note that those aggregated at Course level remain unaffected.

Once the reprocessing has been completed, all providers will please need to review their updated reports ahead of the preview period sign-off date of 3 August 2017.

Closed 24 July 2017 August 2017


A number of providers are experiencing an issue where this rule is triggering despite KISCourse.UCASPROGID and CourseLocation.UCASCOURSEID pairs appearing to exist in the UCAS look-up file.

It appears that IDs for the 2017 (C16061) intake are being used as opposed to the new IDs for the 2018 (C17061) intake.

Below are the details issued by UCAS on how to access the new reports:

In support of the Unistats record collected by HESA for 2018 (C17061), we have made a set of data available which includes codes for the provider, the programmes, and the courses required by HESA.

The reports will be made available to download via MOVEit, our secure file transfer service, to which your UCAS Primary Correspondent has access. You need to request these files to be made available by contacting the HEP Team at [email protected] or on 0344 984 1111, or by raising a ticket in our ServiceNow portal.

For info only 26 May 2017 -

Experiencing an issue not listed here? Let us know.

Release history (C17061)
Release ID Release date Release summary
Upcoming releases (C17061)
Month Scheduled areas of work
Early July Release 2 of C17061 Unistats collection. To include DLHE and NSS data.

Stages of data submission: HESA subscribers only

Stage 1: Submitting and validating data (Unistats)

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.

Stage 2: Sign-off (Unistats)

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 provider to nominate an individual with responsibility for signing off any updates made by the provider to the Unistats 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.