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Student Alternative 2019/20: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2019/20 Student Alternative collection (C19054).

This should be used alongside the C19054 coding manual,  which provides more detailed, technical information about the collection.

Need help? Contact us by email or on +44 (0)1242 388 531

Student Alternative overview

HESA collects data across a number of streams. These streams focus on different aspects of higher education.

The Student Alternative stream collects data about students studying at a subset of higher education providers. Historically, this collected data about students studying at private higher education providers whose students could access student loans. This now includes some higher education providers who are registered with the OfS and are not required to submit the full HESA Student return as well as providers on limited designation or teach out. 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 388531 

Find out more about Liaison

C19054: Deadlines guidance 

As previously communicated to providers, the approach to deadlines will be different this year.

Return, commit and final commit deadlines – these deadlines are not statutory deadlines for this year and no written confirmation is required if they are not met. We strongly recommend that providers follow the normal timeline to progress through this year’s data collection as achieving these milestones ensures that providers and HESA are well placed to achieve signed off data by the sign-off deadline. HESA and Statutory Customers will still use these as progress points and contact you to check on your progress.

Sign-off deadline – this remains a statutory deadline. Providers are required to have committed a final file, resolved all data quality queries in the Issue Management System, and returned a completed sign-off form to [email protected] by 5pm on the day of the deadline. Please be aware that it can take up to five working days for HESA to check your file once committed and raise any necessary data quality queries. You should therefore aim to commit your final file in good time ahead of the sign-off deadline to ensure your file is checked and any quality queries resolved in time for the sign-off deadline.

Providers in England should notify the OfS via [email protected] if you foresee any issues with meeting the sign-off deadline. If the sign-off deadline is not met, a HESA Late Sign Off form will be required by HESA, signed by your Accountable Officer.

If you do foresee any issues, please get in touch as early as possible so that we can provide additional support and guidance as required.


Data collection schedule: Anticipated dates for deadlines

The data collection deadlines for the Student Alternative return are being moved earlier to bring them into line with the Student return, to ensure that all providers are being treated consistently. In order to assist with this change, we will be phasing the adjustments to the deadlines over the C19054, C20054 and C21054 collections. The anticipated deadlines can be seen in the table below.


Student (C19051)

Student Alternative (C19054)


15 September

25 September


21 September

01 October

Final Commit

30 October

10 November


06 November

16 November


Student (C20051)

Student Alternative (C20054)


15 September

22 September


21 September

28 September

Final Commit

01 November

08 November


08 November

15 November


Student (C21051)

Student Alternative (C21054)


15 September

15 September


21 September

21 September

Final Commit

31 October

31 October


07 November

07 November


New fields: Instance.FUNDCODE, Instance.FUNDCOMP and Instance.FUNDLEV

Only providers who are registered in the Approved (fee cap) category on the Office for Students register need to return these new fields.

Providers in the Approved category do not need to return this data.

For more information please see the C19054 Supplementary notification of changes and the coding manual guidance.

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

Data collection system: Release history and known issues

Release ID Release date Release summary
50 21 Oct 2020

Nil returns functionality is now available for providers making a Nil return.

The following quality rules have been amended in this release:

  • Instance.SPLENGTH.3 - amened to correctly display of Course.OWNCOURSEID​
  • Instance.GROSSFEE.27 - amended to remove Course.COURSEAIM M88​
  • Instance.GROSSFEE.18 - deleted following consultation with the OfS, as the rule was unable to successfully implement the anniversary of Instance.COMDATE < 15 weeks clause
  • InstancePeriod.DISALL.4 - amended to not trigger where EntryProfile.DOMICILE not returned​.
49 10 Oct 2020

The National Student Survey (NSS) (draft) and the Unistats reports are now available from the Data Collection dashboard (these will be visible when a new file is submitted).

The Sign-off form is available for Credible transactions.

48 24 Sep 2020

Commit functionality is now available.

The Frequency counts report (Occurrences of valid entries) is now available from the Data Collection dashboard (this will be visible when a new file is submitted).

An update has been made to the XTPOINTS library, correcting the tariff points for the combination QUALGRADE 7V, QUALGRADE P. This is used in several validation rules.

The following quality rules have been added in this release:

  • CourseSubject.SBJCA.10 - new warning used in Credibility checking
  • StudentEquality.RELBLF.10 - new warning to monitor use of ‘Information refused’
  • Instance.FUNDCODE.12 - new warning.

Note that the IRIS (OfS output files) are available from the Data Collection dashboard, but are only visible when data is at a Committable Qstate.

47 10 Sep 2020

The derived field XPSR01 (Standard registration population) has been updated incorporating the technical specification update version 2.7.1. Changes in reports and outputs may occur when a new file is submitted.

The following quality rules have been amended in this release:

  • Course.AWARDBOD.3,4,5 (new), 7 (amended)
  • InstancePeriod.DISALL.4,5 (amended)
  • Instance.FUNDCODE.5,7,8,9,10,11,13,15,16 (new)
  • Instance.FUNDCOMP.1,2 (new)
  • Instance.FUNDLEV.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15 (new)
  • StudentEquality.RELBLF.2,5 (amended), 6 (deleted), 7,8,9,11 (new) 
  • Student.HUSID.4 (amended)
  • QualificationsAwarded.17 (new).

The following Credibility reports have been added (these will be visible when a new file is submitted)

  • SIN1, SIN1P  - updated for registered providers or limited designation and Teach-Out 
  • SIN2, SOF2, SOF2P - updated for limited designation and teach-out 
  • SBJ1, SBJ2, GO2 - updated to use XCAH03 
  • DOM1, DOM2 - addition of access codes C13, E13, H13, J13, M13 
  • DOM3 - addition of 'Other' modes 
  • G01 - removal of QUAL drill-down.
46 27 Aug 2020

The following quality rules have been amended in this release:

  • Student.HUSID.2 has been updated to use the latest list if INSTIDs.
45 13 Aug 2020

The following quality rules have been amended in this release:

  • Instance.GROSSFEE.33
  • Course.AWARDBOD.6/7 (fixed bugs)
44 30 Jul 2020

The Continuity population (Expected instances population for next year) report  has been updated and is now available from the Data Collection Dashboard and will appear when a new file is submitted.

The Credibility report (Management information tables for QA) have been rolled-on for C19054. Please note that the 2019/20 Registration/Designation and HECoS changes have not yet been made, and as a consequence SIN1/2, SIN1P, SOF1/2, SOF2P, GO2 and SBJ1/2 are currently unavailable. Table Information and historic data updates will also be made in upcoming releases.

43 16 Jul 2020

The Data Supply report (identifying raw data and derived fields) is now available from the Data Collection Dashboard and will appear when a new file is submitted.

The following quality rules have been amended in this release:

  • Instance.FUNDCODE.1,2,3,4,6 (new)
  • Instance.FUNDLEV.1 (new)
  • Course.TTCID.6 (new)
  • InstancePeriod.CAMPID.2,3 (new)
  • Course.AWARDBOD.1, 2 (new)
  • InstancePeriod.INITIATIVES.7 (amended)
  • StudentEquality.SEXID.2 (amended)
  • StudentEquality.SEXID.1 (deleted)
42 02 Jul 2020

UKPRN Static data has been updated to validate providers that are allowed to use the new Access Course codes C13, E13, H13, J13 and M13.

The following quality rules have been amended in this release:

  • InstancePeriod.YEARPRG.7; INITIATIVES.13; INITIATIVES.14 (for Accelerated provision) (new)
  • Instance.GROSSFEE.17/18/19/20/21/22/23/24/25/26/27/28/29/30/31/32/33 (new)
  • InstancePeriod.LOCSDY.10 (new)
  • Course.COURSEAIM.17 to validate new Access Courses C13, J13, H13, M13 & E13 (new)
  • QualificationsAwarded.QUAL.16 (tier 4 provider qualifications) (new)
  • InstancePeriod.INITIATIVES.10 (for Institute of Technology providers) (new)
  • Instance.GROSSFEE.11/12/13/15 (addition of M28) (amended)
  • CourseSubject.SBJPCNT.1 (amended)
  • Instance.GROSSFEE.14 (deleted)
41 18 June 2020

Validation rules that use the Continuity Register / XTPOINTs have been enabled.

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

  • Course:AWARDBOD.6/7 (new)
  • Course.COURSEAIM.5/6/7 (amended)​
  • CourseSubject.SBJCA.3/4 (amended)​
  • InstancePeriod.INITIATIVES.1/2/3/4/5/6/7/9/11/12, InstancePeriod.MODE.3/6/7/8, InstancePeriod.MSTUFEE.14/15, InstancePeriod.LOCSDY.9 (amended)​
  • EntryProfile.QualificationsOnEntry.4/6/8/10 (amended)​
  • QualificationsAwarded.QUAL.5/6/13 (amended)​
  • Instance.SPLENGTH.4/5/6, Instance.COMDATE.4/6 (amended)​
40 04 Jun 2020

The Validation kit has been updated in line with the C19054 coding manual version 1.3 schema update.

The latest version of the C19054 designation file (11/05/2020) has been uploaded. This will update some Quality Rules that reference the OfS designation file.

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

  • EntryProfile.PREVINST.1 and .5
  • StudentEquality.ETHNIC.5
  • Course.COURSEAIM.8, .9, .10 and .11
39 21 May 2020

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 Entry Profile report has been added to Data collection dashboard.

38 11 May 2020

The Validation kit has been updated in line with the C19054 coding manual version 1.2 schema update.

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

  • CourseSubject.SBJCA.6 (amended)
  • StudentEquality.RELBLF.4 (amended)
  • StudentEquality.ETHNIC.2 (amended)
  • Instance.GROSSFEE.11/16 (amended)
  • InstancePeriod.PRIPROV.3 (amended)
  • InstancePeriod.LOCATION.1 (amended)
  • InstancePeriod.LOCSDY.7/8 (amended)
  • QualificationsAwarded.QUAL.5/6 (amended)
  • QualificationsAwarded.QUAL.11 (deleted)
  • Student.StudentEquality.1 (deleted)
  • Instance.RSNEND.3 (deleted)
37 28 Apr 2020

The Data Collection System for the C19054 collection is now open, to enable the submission of data. This includes the Quality rules, Rules comparison and Designation status report (for those with Limited and Teach out designation). Further functionality will follow.

Please note that all rules referencing the JACs coding frame have not yet been updated to HECoS valid entries, but these are being prioritised. In addition, rules that previously looked up a provider's designation status have not yet been updated to Approved, Approved (fee cap), or Limited designation/Teach out categories. Again, these are being prioritiesd and both sets of rules will be released in upcoming sprints.

37 24 Apr 2020
  • 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 Validation kit has been updated in line with the C19054 coding manual version 1.1 schema update (QUAL, QUALSBJ and QUALGRADE valid entries) that were omitted in Release ID 34. 

Please note:

  • Quality rules referencing the JACs coding frame have not yet been updated to HECoS valid entries. These will follow in subsequent releases.
  • Quality rules that refer to 'Designation' are currently being updated to cater for Approved and Approved (fee cap) Registered providers and the new Limited Designation category that remains for some providers. These will follow in subsequent releases.  
35 26 Mar 2020

This release includes a number of updates to the Quality Rules:

  • The first load of a C19054 designation file (11/03/2020) has been uploaded. This will update some Quality Rules that reference the OfS designation file
  • The deletion of several CourseSubject.SBJCA rules that link to the OfS designation.xml, following OfS advice, as subject validation on this file will not take place for C19054
  • The deletion of StudentEquality coverage rules that are now enforced by schema.
34 12 Mar 2020

The Validation kit has been updated in line with the C19054 coding manual version 1.1 schema update. Please note that all rules referencing the JACs coding frame have not been updated to HECoS valid entries, and rules still reference last year's C18054 designation status file. Consequently, the Validation kit should only be used for schema validation at this stage. We are working on the mechanism to reference the Provider registration categories over the coming weeks, and the proposed release schedule will be added to the 'Upcoming releases' page within the Support Guide.

The data entry tool is live. This is the program which will produce XML data in the format required for submission to HESA. The link will be added to the next release of the coding manual, but can be downloaded here:

31 29 Jan 2020 This release includes:

  • The roll-on of the quality rules (business rules). Please note that the 2019/20 changes have not been made at this stage, and the rules are based on the final position of 2018/19. 
  •  The downloadable validation kit including a roll-on of the 2018/19 business rules. This will allow users to validate their XML against the schema as per the C19054 Coding Manual version 1.0. If you already have the validation kit installed there is no need to install a new version. If you do not currently have the validation kit installed, you can access it by going to
30 16 Jan 2020

The HUSID Lookup Service is now available.

Issue Summary Status Date raised Date resolved
There is a known issue with the display of Course.AWARDBOD.6. When an invalid UKPRN is returned, a rule description 'Exception has been thrown by the target of an invocation' is being displayed, rather than the incorrect UKPRN. Identifying the invalid UKPRN with stop the rule triggering. A fix will be progressed.  Resolved 14 Oct 2020 21 Oct 2020
There is a known issiue with InstancePeriod.DISALL.4. It is currently triggering when no EntryProfile.DOMICILE is returned. It should only trigger when an EntryProfile has been submitted in the incoming record. A fix is being progressed. Resolved 30 Sept 2020 21 Oct 2020
There is a known issue with the recently amended QR.C19054.InstancePeriod.DISALL.4 whereby it is triggering where StudentEquality.NATION = 'GB', whereas it should not be triggering where StudentEquality.NATION = 'GB'. A fix is being progressed.  Resolved 11 Sept 2020 24 Sept 2020
There is a known error in the XTPOINTs appendix. The Pearson BTEC Level 3 (Extended Diploma in Advanced Manufacture Engineering) combination QULATYPE '7V' QUALGRADE 'P' has been attributed 32 Tariff points. This should be corrected to 48 Tariff points.  Resolved 26 August 2020 24 Sept 2020
QR.C19054.Student.HUSID.2 is currently triggering for any providers that are completing the Student Alternative record for the first time in 2019/20 and returning HUSIDs that include their own HESA INSTID. Resolved 06 August 2020 26 August 2020

The Credibility and Expected Instance Population reports are currently not being produced where the provider has triggered the quality rules QR.C19054.Course.AWARDBOD.6 or QR.C19054.Course.AWARDBOD.7.

Resolved 05 August 2020 13 August 2020

We are currently experiencing issues with the validation of the new AWARDBOD field, in particular the submission of UKPRNs, and the import of INITIATIVES where a two-character valid entry is being submitted. 


07 May 2020

11 May 2020

A high-level summary of the C19054 major component releases are highlighted below.

This is a guide to the proposed sequence of releases. Releases may occur before, or after, the month indicated depending on internal and external factors.


  • Data entry tool
  • HUSID lookup service
  • Roll-on of collection
  • Validation kit with rolled on business rules from the previous year


  • Business rules to match coding manual schema and coverage updates
  • First load of the OfS designation file


  • XTPOINTs library update
  • Continuity Register update
  • Opening of the Data Collection System with rules and rule compare functionality
  • Designation report


  • Business rules to match coding manual schema and coverage updates
  • Derived field development
  • Exception rule updates following derived field implementation
  • Entry Profile, Data Supply, Continuity (Expected Instances) population report
  • Business rules to match coding manual schema and coverage updates
  • Credibility and Exception rule updates using available external static data
  • Frequency Counts report
  • Revisions to XTPOINTs appendix
  • Credibility reports (revised for Registered and Designated provider categories)
  • IRIS reports


  • NSS (National Student Survey) draft report, Unistats report
  • Commit functionality and Sign-off form

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.