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Graduate Outcomes Contact Details record 2017/18

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Contact details guidance for providers

Version 1.1 Produced 2019-08-08

Contents: General guidance | Shared contact details | Switches | Human / system error | Approval | Future proofing

The Data Specification for the return of contact details for the Graduate Outcomes record can be found on the HESA website.

  • The ‘data items’ page outlines the requirements for each field which a provider must refer to, to ensure the correct data is returned in the correct field. We have provided some additional guidance on the EMAIL, INTTEL, UKMOB and UKTEL fields.
  • The quality rules page outlines the validation that will take place in the provider portal.
  • The role and responsibilities of providers with reference to their own quality assurance of personal contact details data.

This page summarises the guidance for the creation of accurate personal contact details data and should be used prior to submission in the provider portal.

Contact detail Email (EMAIL) Phone number (UKTEL and INTTEL) Mobile (UKMOB)
Acceptable Unacceptable Acceptable Unacceptable Acceptable Unacceptable
Agents or recruitment agency x x x
Companies that support international students studying abroad x x x
Referees (e.g. for UCAS) x x x
Sponsors x x x
International study centre x x x
University lecturers/academics x x x
Dummy data x x x
Legitimately shared / duplicate contact data x x x

Submission of duplicates and shared email addresses is not best practice. These should only be submitted where there is a genuine reason for this e.g. shared family telephone number, shared accommodation, shared workplace / business landline telephone. Providers will need to request for the quality rule triggering to be switched. More information is provided below under ‘Switches’.

General guidance

Throughout the collection process, providers should quality assure (QA) contact details to ensure their robustness, accuracy and validity. This should include a thorough data cleansing exercise prior to submission in the provider portal and the identification and removal of all duplicated contact details, where there is not a genuine reason for there being shared contact details.

Providers should carry out thorough data cleansing to include:

  • Accuracy of personal contact data – these should be current (verified by undertaking the recommended best practise contact activities) and be the personal contact details for the graduate as provided and verified by that graduate. This should include taking all reasonable steps to verify that ‘unacceptable’ contact details have not inadvertently been recorded as the graduates’ personal contact details
  • Determining that there is a valid reason for the submission of duplicate/shared contact details and removing duplicate/shared contact details and removing duplicate/shared contact details where there is no valid reason for their submission
  • Removal of unacceptable contact details as outlined in the Data Specification for Graduate Outcomes, examples of which are given in the table above.
Shared contact details

The use of shared contact details is only permitted where there are legitimate reasons. This is because we need the personal contact details for a graduate to contact the intended graduate directly, and to remove the risk of the survey being sent to unintended recipients.

We accept that there will be cases where the graduate has legitimately requested that a shared contact detail be used. These occcasions will be switchable in the provider portal i.e. confirmable by providers, but providers should seek to identify these instances and verify them before they are submitted to HESA. As an additional measure we have released additional validation in the provider portal.

Provider domain email addresses

Where providers have supplied email addresses for graduates on their domain e.g. joe.bloggs@[provider], they should be mindful of the expiry period for these addresses. Some providers allow graduates to keep these addresses for life, others expire them after a fixed period (e.g. six month post-course completion). These email addresses should only be returned as valid graduate contact details for Graduate Outcomes when they are still live accounts on your system. Please refer to your IT department for guidance on the retention policy for such email addresses before submitting them to HESA.


A switch will need to be requested where there are genuinely shared contact details which are triggering a record level error in the provider portal.

To request a switch, the provider will need to email the HESA Liaison team. If you are an English FE College, please contact the Office for Students. This email will need to detail the rule triggering, the student identifier such as a HUSID and an explanation for why this data is genuine. Once the switch has been approved, it will be applied to the data so the error is no longer triggering for those records.

Please note that when contacting OfS/HESA, personal data of the graduate should not be included in the email.

Human / system error

We’re aware that many staff members are involved in the creation of the contact details data for the purposes of Graduate Outcomes, using a number of different internal systems and software houses.

With this in mind along with the above, additional checks/validation should be taken by providers prior to submission to HESA to ensure there are no human / system related errors when producing the XML file for submission to the provider portal. This is to avoid incorrect transposition of data arising from manual data handling.


When approving the submitted contact data as per the published deadlines, you must agree that the data submitted meets the Data Specification for Graduate Outcomes. A pop-up window will request that you have checked and verified that it meets the specification and that quality assurance mechanisms have been used.

Future proofing

We know that some providers have found effective ways of verifying their data to ensure it meets the Data Specification for Graduate Outcomes so we will look to create case studies to enable these good practice approaches to be shared and used more widely.

Need help?

Contact Liaison by email or on +44 (0)1242 388 531.