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Unistats record 2019/20

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Unistats record 2019/20 - Linking to other datasets

Version 1.0 Produced 2019-04-17


Unistats data comes from a combination of data sources including standard administrative datasets:

  • HESA Student collection
  • HESA AP Student collection
  • Individualised Learner Record (ILR)
  • Lifelong Learning Wales Record (LLWR) records
  • Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO)

It also includes survey data from:

  • National Student Survey (NSS)
  • Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE)

There is also a data collection submission direct from providers. This guidance is designed to help providers complete the part of the Unistats data collection submission that will link up courses offered in 2019/20 to data from all of these sources and display it on the website.


The HESACourse and ILRAims entities are located within the KISCourse entity. The HESACOURSEID and HESAYEAR fields are used within the HESACourse entity to link a course to be published back to courses returned in the HESA Student and HESA APStudent collections. The ILRAIMID and ILRYEAR fields are used within the ILRAims entity to link back to courses returned to the ILR record in England or the LLWR record in Wales.

Creating these links serves two purposes. Firstly, it links the course to be published to a subject area based on independent information returned at an earlier date. Secondly, it allows HESA and the OfS to link up course level results from the NSS and DLHE surveys as well as all other course level calculated metrics to the courses to be published on the website.

Providers can link to any course returned to HESA Student, HESA APStudent, ILR, or LLWR collections for the 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 academic years. Links should be created for every available year the course has been returned. It is the decision of the provider whether it is suitable to link back to a course if there is a change in the way it was delivered.

Academic year Value of HESAYEAR/ILRYEAR
2015/16 2015
2016/17 2016
2017/18 2017

Having identified the relevant year, the specific course to link back to must be identified using the HESACOURSEID field which should be equal to the COURSEID field returned as part of the HESA Student or HESA APStudent collection for that year. If the course being linked to was returned to the ILR or LLWR records then the ILRAIMID field should be used to identify the specific course. The ILRAIMID field should equal the Learning Aim reference number returned to the LARS for the course in the year in question.

HESACourse.HESACOURSEID and ILRAims.ILRAIMID should only be used to link to courses that are the embodiment, on the HESA Student or AP Student records or ILR records, of the course for which a Unistats record is being produced. It would be misleading to applicants if other courses were included, as this could lead to a belief that they were viewing course level data, when they were looking at data relating to a group of courses.

Example 1 (Simple)

A BSc Mathematics course has been running since 2016/17 and was returned to the HESA Student collection in 2016/17 and 2017/18 with the same COURSEID (Maths1) each time. In this case, the provider would need to return two occurrences of the HESACourse entity - one for each year the course has been running.

Maths1 Maths1 2016
Maths1 Maths1 2017

Example 2 (Advanced)

A BSc Mathematics course has two intakes each year in October and January and has been running since 2016/17. The provider distinguishes between the two intakes in the HESA Student collection by using different COURSEIDs in each year of the record but is producing only one Unistats record. In this case, the provider would need to return four occurrences of the HESACourse entity - two for each course code, referring to each year the course has been running.

Maths1 MathsOCT 2016
Maths1 MathsJAN 2016
Maths1 MathsOCT2 2017
Maths1 MathsJAN2 2017

Similarly, if a course has been running for multiple years with the same COURSEID the HESACourse entity would need to be returned once for each of the last three years the course has been running. If this BSc Mathematics course had been returned to HESA in 2016/17 and 2017/18 then the following links would need to be returned:

Maths1 MathsOCT 2016
Maths1 MathsJAN 2016
Maths1 MathsOCT 2017
Maths1 MathsJAN 2017

New courses

For new courses (those that have never been returned to the HESA Student, APStudent, ILR or LLWR collections) the LDCS or HECOS fields should be populated instead. These fields allow linking to a broader subject area if no course level data exists.

Mode of study

In populating the Unistats submission, if a course is identified in KISCourse.KISMODE as being 'Full-time', then only full-time metrics will be used. If 'Part-time' is identified, then only part-time metrics will be used, and if 'Both' is selected, two pages on the website will be produced and will use separate full and part-time metrics.

Publication thresholds

Wherever possible, data is published at course level. However, for data to be published it must meet a publication threshold. The thresholds are as follows:

Source: Students included: Threshold:
ILR/HESA data All At least 10 students
National Student Survey All At least 10 responses and at least 50% response rate.
DLHE All At least 10 responses
DLHE (excluding salary) UK, Full-Time At least 68% response rate.
DLHE (excluding salary) UK, Part-Time At least 59.5% response rate.
DLHE (salary only) UK, Full-Time, Part-Time At least 50% response rate (from employed graduates).
LEO England only, Full-Time, Part-Time At least 15 students.

If, after linking to course level data, there are too few students included or they do not represent a large enough sample of students on the course the data is aggregated at a higher level and the calculation repeated.


In order to show data where the thresholds are not met, data from the same course in the previous year or similar subjects will also be used. As each metric has its own threshold, each may require different levels of aggregation.

Aggregation will link to data from the previous year for the subject first to attempt to meet these thresholds. If this isn’t enough, it will then aggregate with data from similar subjects. Similar subjects are identified by applying the Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH) subject mappings. The CAH provides standard groupings that can be applied to both HECoS and JACS subjects. This supports consistent analysis across both coding frames, which is helpful since some of the datasets used still include JACS fields. These aggregations therefore provide continuity in subject analysis through the transition from JACS to the new scheme. The CAH can be downloaded here

In order to allow the approach to be applied for further education colleges the LDCS (Learn Direct Classification System) codes included within the Unistats return and on the LARS (Learning Aims Reference Service) will be mapped to JACS codes, and then subsequently to the CAH. Full details of the mapping can be made available from the Office for Students (OfS).

This is shown by the diagram for a course in Community mental health nursing:

There are two exceptions to this process, new courses (those that have not previously been returned to the HESA Student, HESA APStudent, ILR or LLWR collections) and data from the LEO dataset. For new courses the aggregation process cannot begin at course level and so starts from the most recent year of data at CAH level 3. The process is otherwise identical. LEO data is always aggregated over two years and always at subject level, starting from CAH level 3.

For multiple subject courses that meet the threshold to have a separate Unistats record the aggregation approach outlined above will be applied to each subject separately. Thus, a multiple subject course record may include up to three sets of metrics. Where data is aggregated by subject and two or more of the subjects included in the course map to the same subject at the next level in the CAH, a single figure will be given. For example, a Physics and Astronomy course does not have sufficient NSS data to be published, neither do the CAH level 3 subjects of Physics or Astronomy, in which case a single set of data for the CAH level 2 subject Physics and Astronomy and would be produced.

Other considerations in linking to previous courses

Where a provider is producing two Unistats records for two similar courses where one has a compulsory sandwich year (KISCourse.SANDWICH=2) and one does not have a sandwich course available (KISCourse.SANDWICH=0), then the Unistats record where the sandwich course is not available should only link to the non-sandwich course on the HESA Student, AP Student, or ILR record and vice-versa.

Similarly, if a Unistats record has an optional sandwich year (KISCourse.SANDWICH=1) and the sandwich and non-sandwich versions of the course are returned separately in the HESA student or AP student return, then the Unistats record should link to both versions of the course.

The same principle applies to compulsory/or optional year abroad (KISCourse.YEARABROAD) and distance learning courses (KISCourse.DISTANCE).

Need help?

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