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Aggregate Offshore record 2018/19 - Validation overview

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Validation overview

Version 1.0 Produced 2018-10-05

HESA has developed extensive quality assurance procedures and runs a range of validation checks against all submissions. This document describes the validation checks and the stages at which they take place.

Aggregate offshore record XML files must be encoded with UTF-8 and schema validation will be in place to ensure this. Higher education providers (HEPs) must specify the encoding used in their XML files in the first line of the file (i.e. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>) and to ensure that their files are actually saved with that encoding. If XML files are edited with some text editors and the encoding is not specified or does not match the actual file encoding, there may be problems when submitting these files for validation.

Validation check Stage
UKPRN validation Business
Schema checks Business (included in Validation kit)
Exception stage validation quality rules Exception

Business stage quality rules

UKPRN validation

The check to ensure that Institution.UKPRN is valid, is carried out at the submission of a file rather than Exception stage.

If an invalid UKPRN is submitted, only this error will be displayed. The system will not display structural errors (schema checks) or business rule errors/warnings until a valid UKPRN is submitted.

Validation kit checks

HESA provides downloadable validation kits to assist HEPs in the preparation of their data. The validation kits provide some basic structural and 'sense' checks prior to data submission with the aim of reducing the number of errors encountered when submitting data to the live system. With the change in structure for the student data, a new type of the student validation kit is required.

The new validation kit will perform the following checks:

Schema checks

Checks that the XML is 'well formed' and that it conforms to the rules of the schema definition (the XSD files).


  • Every element in the file must have the correct opening and closing tags
  • Elements must be correctly nested
  • Elements must contain the correct type of data (strings, dates, valid entries etc.)
  • Elements must be submitted in the sequence defined in the XSD

Exception stage quality rules

A further stage of validation will run when data is submitted to the data collection system. Exception stage validation includes quality rules that require comparisons with data across an entire return and/or against reference data held at HESA. These checks cannot be run within the validation kit for this reason.

Validation kit software

When released, the validation kit will be made available at download, as an MSI installation file. To install the software you simply need to run the MSI file on a Windows PC. If you do not have access to a Windows PC, please contact Liaison ([email protected]) for further instructions.

When the validation program is opened it automatically checks the HESA web server for the latest set of rules and updates the package if appropriate.

A quick start guide is included in the application.

The kit utilises the Microsoft .NET framework. This is likely to already be installed on many computers as it is required by much of Microsoft's own software.

Need help?

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