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Student Alternative 2019/20 - Start date of instance

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Student Alternative 2019/20

Fields required from institutions in All fields

Start date of instance

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Short nameCOMDATE

This field indicates the date of the student's initial commencement of studies for this student instance and may relate to a date prior to the current academic/financial year. Exchange-in students should have the date they commenced their studies at the reporting provider.

Applicable toEngland Scotland

All instances.


If a student transfers from one provider to another, the date they entered the current provider for this qualification aim should be returned in this field.

All date fields in the Student Alternative record must be completed using the ISO8601 format of YYYY-MM-DD. The specification of this field falls within the scope of the Aligned Data Definitions and follows the Data Standards in the HESA Student Alternative record.

Relationship with Instance.NUMHUS and InstancePeriod.YEARSTU:

For a single student instance, the same Student instance number is kept. InstancePeriod.YEARSTU would be expected to increment each year. However there would be no updating of Instance.COMDATE nor of other fields in the Entry profile - an exception being, if, for example, an error had been found in the information provided in the previous year.

With the commencement of a new student instance, a new Instance.NUMHUS would be allocated. InstancePeriod.YEARSTU would be expected to be 01. Instance.COMDATE should all be updated and a new Entry profile should be submitted.

Where a student transfers from one course to another, the date should not be updated if the same Instance.NUMHUS is kept. For example, changes of subject without change of general qualification aim will not usually reset date of commencement of instance.

Neither should the field be re-set where a student registers for an 'intermediate' qualification aim with the clear intention (acknowledged by both student and provider) that, subject to satisfactory performance, s/he will progress seamlessly (and usually without being awarded the intermediate qualification) onto a 'higher' qualification aim. For example, if a student registers first foundation degree then switches to a BA, and this is regarded as normal progression in the provider, such that the same student instance number is kept, the Instance.COMDATE should not be reset.

If a student began a course later than the rest of the cohort, their actual start date should be returned in Instance.COMDATE rather than the advertised start of the course.

If induction periods immediately precede the start of teaching, the Instance.COMDATE should be the start of the induction period. If there is a significant gap between the two, the Instance.COMDATE should be the start of teaching.


1. A student obtains a first degree in Business Studies and then enrols on a HND in Marketing. . These are two distinct courses and therefore would have two Student instance numbers. In this case a new instance is created:

  • Instance.COMDATE is the commencement date of the HND
  • InstancePeriod.YEARPRG = 1
  • InstancePeriod.YEARSTU = 1
  • EntryProfile.QUALENT3 refers to degree
  • Instance.NUMHUS has a new number allocated.

2. A student transfers after two years from an HND course to the second year of a degree course (with or without being awarded the HND). This may be represented in two different ways, depending on how it is viewed by the provider.

If within the provider this is regarded as a seamless continuation of studies, then it is the same student instance and the same Instance.NUMHUS is kept and Instance.YEARSTU increments by one year. In this case:

However, if within the provider this is regarded as two student instances, then a new Instance.NUMHUS is allocated and Instance.YEARSTU re-sets to 01. In this case a new instance is created:

  • Instance.COMDATE is the commencement date of the degree
  • InstancePeriod.YEARPRG = 2
  • InstancePeriod.YEARSTU = 1
  • EntryProfile.QUALENT3 is updated to HND if appropriate
  • Instance.NUMHUS has a new number allocated.

When a provider does not have a clear preference between the two methods of reporting the progression to degree via study for an HND, it is recommended that the first method, using a single student instance, is used. This general guidance would also apply to other similar cases.

Quality rules
Quality rules relating to this entity are displayed here.
Reason required To determine whether to include a student in any particular population definition; to calculate the duration of a student's education. Used in analyses to determine students who are active in any given academic year.
Part of
Field length10
Minimum occurrences1
Maximum occurrences1
Schema components
Element: COMDATE
Related fields
OwnerInformation Standards Board - Aligned Data Definitions

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