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Unistats 2018/19: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2018/19 Unistats collection (C18061).

This should be used alongside the C18061 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

Reminders (C18061)

No reminders yet

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

Known issues (C18061)
Issue summary Status Date raised Date resolved

No issues yet


Experiencing an issue not listed here? Let us know.

Release history (C18061)
Release ID Release date Release summary
No history yet    
Upcoming releases (C18061)
Month Scheduled areas of work
No releases yet  

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.