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AP student 2018/19: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2018/19 AP student collection (C18054).

This should be used alongside the C18054 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

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 the relevant funding council 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.

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.

You submit data via our 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 and track the progress of the collection.

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:

  • User guide
  • Data collection system: Known issues and release history.

In the Support area of the HESA website, 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 section, you can find:


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

Contact Liaison by email or on +44 (0)1242 211144 

Find out more about Liaison

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 schedule

Providers are reminded to reference the data collection schedule for C18054 and are required to have submitted complete data and pass business stage validation by 28 September 2019. The complete data collection schedule is available here.

Validation on open instances

There is a warning that highlights where a record has not been returned in this reporting year, however an active record was sent to HESA in a previous reporting year. This is to help providers close open instances that should be closed.


Clarification on the return of Instance.ENDDATE has been added to C18054. ENDDATE should reflect the student's final engagement with the course. For many students this will be when they complete the taught or formally structured part of their course, including planned exam periods and any formal writing-up period.


The HEAPES survey is not taking place and the Office for Students (OfS) have confirmed that they will no longer use the HEAPESPOP field. Consequently, HEAPESPOP is optional for C18054 and will be removed from C19054. The coverage for the field has been changed to ‘Optional for all students’ and the notes updated to reflect this change in requirement.

Further changes to the C18054 AP Student record

The Notification of Changes outlines the full changes to C18054.  Providers should also consult the Revision History page of the coding manual for a full technical list of changes to the C18054 record specifications.

Data Protection

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies from 25 May 2018.  Article 13 of the GDPR requires data controllers to provide information to data subjects that identifies data controllers and describes their purposes for processing personal data, including transfers and disclosures to other data controllers. HESA’s Collection Notices provide this information for students, staff and graduates on behalf of HESA, HESA Services Ltd and the other organisations who are data controllers in common of HESA datasets.

HE providers must inform students that their personal data will be submitted to HESA, and must make the HESA Collection Notices available to all relevant data subjects. HESA recommend that HE providers include a link from their own privacy notices to the HESA Collection Notices.  The Collection Notices are published at

Graduate Outcomes

In C17054 the population for cohort A was available in the data collection system. As the Graduate Outcomes portal will be available from September 2019 for the 2018/19 graduates, the Graduate Outcomes report will no longer be available from the AP Student data collection system. The functionality for reviewing the population information and returning contact details will be available via the Graduate Outcomes provider portal.

Data Collection Deadlines

Providers are reminded about the importance of meeting data collection deadlines. Statutory customers will consider the meeting of these deadlines as part of their analysis of provider risk.

Information Reporting Interface Service (IRIS) output

The OfS will generate outputs to allow providers to verify, and where appropriate correct, their data before signing it off. These outputs will be made available to providers as part of the Information Reporting Interface Service (IRIS) reporting available through our data collection system. Further information on these outputs and the schedule for release will be issued by the OfS.

You are required to review all of these outputs to ensure that the data returned to HESA is accurate. 

Validation kit

The validation kit grants you earlier access to the validation processes to test against schema and business stage quality rules. The 2018/19 AP student validation kit is available for download.

Minerva queries

During the data quality checking phase of data collection, 'committed' data will be reviewed by HESA and the OfS.  Resulting data quality queries will be raised with providers through the Minerva system.

You are required to actively engage with data quality checking and the resolution of Minerva queries during the collection period.  Providers are expected to interact with Minerva and our data collection system frequently throughout the checking period. This allows you to gradually resolve issues either through providing explanations of genuine data or submitting revised data that corrects issues. Through adopting this approach, you can iteratively improve the quality of your data and expose issues in a timely manner leading to better quality returns.

We expect you to respond to all queries, before your file can be set to credible and signed-off by your accountable officer.  As a guide we expect data queries to be answered within 5 working days.

Known issues

All reported issues on the AP Student record are communicated under Known issues. These include both open and fixed issues that we are aware of.

Derived field specifications

Analysis and outputs provided by HESA use derived field groupings to produce populations. Full details of the derived fields that we use in analysis of the C18054 AP student data are available from the derived fields specification page in the coding manual.

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, and they have the ability to grant system roles to colleagues. The Record Contact should inform Liaison of any changes to contact details, including if a new record contact is taking over.


E-learning content is available to support providers with their submissions; this includes system tutorials.

Data collection system: Release history and known issues

Release ID Release date Release summary
25 06 Nov 2019 The NSS (National Student Survey) report has been updated. It was identified that previously surveyed students were included in the population when they should have been excluded. As a result of this all providers have been reprocessed.  and if you have downloaded this data then please ensure that you take a new copy of your population file.

A note has been added to the Credibility report GO1 explaining that as a consequence of including QualificationsAwarded.QUAL in the drill-down, GO1 displays the count of qualifying qualifications. Where more than one qualifying qualification exists for one Student instance, each qualification is counted in GO1 and displayed in the drill-down as a separate row. 

QR.QualificationOnEntry.QUALGRADE.2 has been corrected to allow for the valid combination of QUALGRADE 'DMM' and QUALTYPE 'BF'.

24 23 Oct 2019

The links on the Data Supply pop-up window to the derived field specifications and file structures has been updated.

The Credibility report CLAS1P shading rule has been updated to trigger only when there is a year-on-year difference greater than 5%, and TAR1P when there is a year-on-year difference greater than 20%. The 'and greater than 5 students' will be inferred from CLAS1 and TAR1 respectively.

The latest OfS designation file (10/10/2019) has been uploaded. This will update Quality Rules that reference the designation file.

23 10 Oct 2019

The latest version of the XTPOINTS library has been added to the domain to ensure validation matches the complete list of QualificationsOnEntry.QUALTYPES and QUALGRADES listed in the coding manual. All providers' data was reprocessed to recalculate XTPOINTS if required.

22 27 Sept 2019

The latest OfS designation file (17/09/2019) has been uploaded. This will update Quality Rules that reference the designation file. (Leading zeros on COURSEAIMs have been removed, and there has been an update for UKPRN 10042570)

XTPOINTS implementation has bene amended to de-dupe Reformed A-levels (QUALTYPES RE, RN, RW) and Double awards (QUALTYPES DA and D1) in the same manner as A level (QUALTYPE A), following clarification from UCAS.

NSS report text has been updated to correctly identify that the report identifies students expected to be completing their studies in the following academic year.

21 11 Sept 2019

The NSS (National Student Survey) report - identifying eligible undergraduate students expected to be completing their studies in the academic year 2019/20 is now available (in draft format until parallel testing has been carried out by HESA and OfS). 

20 29 Aug 2019

The following reports are now available:

  • Unistats report – this report shows a preview of what the data will look like in the Unistats collection.
  • Frequency count report - this has now been updated with the relevant changes for 2018/19.

Final updates to the lookup lists have been made – including the UKRLP lookup.

The Commit button functionality is now available. 

19a 20 Aug 2019 The IRIS reports are now available from the Data Collection dashboard.

14 Aug 2019

The following reports are now available:

  • Continuity population report - showing the expected instance population for next year
  • Designation status report - presenting an extract of the designation file provided to HESA from OfS.

The latest OfS designation file (02/08/2019) has been uploaded. This will update Quality Rules that reference the designation file.

The Sign-off form, available once a provider's submission has been made credible, has been added. 

An issue with the quality rule EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.13 has been fixed, using updated Continuity data.

18 31 July 2019

The following quality rules have been added/amended in this release:

  • QR.StudentEquality.RELBLF.4 - error amended to add a tolerance to trigger only where more than 5% of students are coded ‘Not known’.  
  • QR.StudentEquality.GENDERID.3 - added to warn where more than 10% of students are coded as having a different gender identity to that assigned at birth, to check coding matches submitted data.
17 19 July 2019

The latest version of the XTPOINTS library has been added to the domain to ensure validation matches the complete list of QualificationsOnEntry.QUALTYPES listed in the coding manual.

The latest OfS designation file (27/06/2019) has been uploaded. This will update Quality Rules that reference the designation file.

Quality Rule QR.Instance.1 - amended to handle cases where no students were returned in a previous year. 

16 04 July 2019 Quality rule QR.StudentEquality.RELBLF.5 added to error where more than 1% of students have changed from a known code to not known (99) or information refused (98) between years. 
15 21 June 2019

The first load of a C18054 designation file (10/06/2019) has been uploaded. This will update Quality Rules that reference the OfS designation file.

The following new Quality Rules have been added to align the AP collection with the Student (C18051) collection validation:

  • QR.C18054.StudentEquality.RELBLF.4 (Error) - added to error where more than 1% of students have changed from a previously known code to not known (99) or information refused (98) this year. This excludes students who commenced studies prior to 2018/19, or for incoming visiting exchange students.
  • QR.C18054.StudentEquality.RELBLF.5 (Error) - added to error when a previously known religious belief code has been submitted this year as either 'Not known' or 'Information refused'.
14 06 June 2019

The following Quality Rules have been amended or added:

  • QR.C18054.InstancePeriod.INITIATIVES.4 and QR.C18054.InstancePeriod.INITIATIVES.5 - amended to apply to full-time Masters students with 'Postgraduate Loan Eligibility' only
  • QR.C18054.InstancePeriod.INITIATIVES.9 - added to validate Doctoral students with 'Postgraduate Loan Eligibility'
  • QR.C18054.Course.COURSEAIM.13 - changed to a Warning from an Error as DfE have relaxed the requirement for this validation
  • QR.C18054: Student.HUSID.4 - changed to an Error from a Warning to prevent multiple HUSIDs being assigned to a student.
13 24 May 2019

The following quality rules have been updated:

  • QR.C18054.InstancePeriod.INITIATIVES.1 - The plain English text has been revised to clarify that Doctoral programmes are included in the coverage of Postgraduate Loan Eligibility.
  • QR.C18054.Instance.1 - The underlying lookup table for the previous year's data in this rule has now been updated to point to 2017/18 (C17054) total student instance counts.
12 09 May 2019

The Credibility reports have been updated for 2018/19 and are now available from the data collection dashboard. Drill-down has been added to GO1. (Please note that the Graduate Outcomes report will no longer be available from the AP student data collection dashboard. The functionality for reviewing the population information and returning contact details is now available via the Graduate Outcomes collection site).

A revised *J data for UCAS file has been loaded into the system following an update by UCAS. This is used in various quality rules.

11 25 April 2019

The following rules have been deleted due to InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP becoming optional for C18054:

  • QR.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.1/2/3/4/6/7/9/10/12/13/14/15/16/17/18/19/20/21/22/23/24/25/26
  • QR.EntryProfile.DOMICILE.4
10 11 April 2019

Validation kit updated to match Coding manual version 1.2 schema update.

Validation rule updates:

  • QR.InstancePeriod.HEAPESPOP.27 added to warn provides that this field is no longer required by OfS. (Update to Coding manual and deletion of existing HEAPESPOP rules to follow)
  • QR.InstancePeriod.INITIATIVES.1 amended to include doctoral loan students (COURSEAIMs D00, E00, L00).
09 29 March 2019

QR.InstancePeriod.PERIODEND.4 and QR.InstancePeriod.PERIODEND.5 plain English text updated to add a further possible resolution if the rules trigger 'If the student has left, Instance.ENDDDATE and Instance.RSNEND should be completed'.

07 01 March 2019

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 2018/19 changes have not yet been made, and it will currently look like it did in 2017/18. 
  • the downloadable validation kit, including a roll on of the 2017/18 business rules, exceptions and continuity validation 
  • the XML data entry tool - updated for C18054

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. 

The following reports are now live (Note that they are liable to change up until 01 August as specifications are updated):

Frequency counts report - this report shows the total number of records returned against each valid entry in the fields listed.

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. 

NSS (Draft) report - The National Student Survey (NSS) report identifies eligible undergraduate students expected to be completing their studies in the academic year 2018/19. This remains draft until the specification is finalised.

Issue Summary Status Date raised Date resolved

Issue ID: 78264 - QR.Course.COURSEAIM.8, 9, 10 and 11 Designation file lookup

It has been identified that the Designation file Courseaim entries do not match the format of the entries described in the above rules, leading to these rules triggering incorrectly. The format has been corrected and the Designation file is awaiting build and release.



Closed 06 Sept 2019 27 Sept 2019

Issue ID: 80479 - GO1 Credibility report table

It has come to our attention that the GO1 (Students in the Graduate Outcomes survey population by domicile, mode and level) table in Credibility reporting is not populating correctly for PGT and PGR qualifications. This is being looked into and will be fixed shortly. 


31 Oct 2019

06 Nov 2019

Stages of data submission

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.

How to obtain a switch

When errors are triggered in the Data Collection system but the data has been checked and is genuine, you need to request a switch. This is because your file will not pass the validation requirements of the collection deadlines if there are any remaining errors.

Please email your switch request to Liaison, stating which rule is causing the error to be triggered and for how many records, together with an explanation as to why the data is genuine.

This will then be forwarded to your funding council/regulator for them to review. They may agree the switch, ask for more information or state how they wish the data to be returned so that an error is no longer triggered.

This request should be sent well in advance of any deadline, to allow sufficient time for a decision to be made.

When a switch has been agreed, it will be applied to your data for the count specified and the data will be reprocessed. This will resolve the error.

If the count increases, the rule will be triggered again, and you will need to request that the count on the switch be increased. This will be forwarded to your funding council/regulator for approval.

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 the relevant funding council. 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 388531

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

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

Access the Issue Management System data quality database

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 as well as the appropriate record contact. The form should be completed and signed by the 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.