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Unistats 2019/20: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2019/20 Unistats collection (C19061).

This should be used alongside the C19061 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

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 is currently published on the Discover Uni website (owned by the Office for Students and the higher education funding bodies in the other countries of the UK). The data is also available to the public and other information providers as an open dataset.

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:


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.

Contact Liaison by email or on +44 (0)1242 388531 

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-Unistats JISCMail list

If you encounter any problems, contact Liaison

Preparation guide: HESA subscribers only

The C19061 Notification of Changes outlines the changes to the 2019/20 collection.  Providers are notified of any changes made to the 2019/20 Unistats record after the first release of the manual in the Revision History.  

Key Changes for 2019/20

The OfS have requested that two new fields are added to the C19061 return. These fields will capture the course cost URL.


As a result of the new fields listed, the guidance to two existing fields have been updated to remove reference to costs:

Validation kit

The HESA validation kit is available to download from the validation kit page. The kit enables providers to run their data against first stage (business rule) validation ahead of submitting the file to the data collection system.

XML Data entry tool

To assist providers in completing the Unistats return, HESA make available a downlodable data entry tool. The XML data entry tool is created in order to produce XML data in the format required for submission. It takes the data entered into it, validates it against the schema structure and outputs a valid XML file for submission.

The tool will be available shortly. 

HESA Identity System

Access to the data collection system is governed through the HESA Identity System (IDS). The Unistats Record Contact at each provider will be able to invite additional colleagues to have access to the system through the IDS. Please ensure that the correct roles are in place to allow the necessary access required by colleagues ahead of the collection opening. The Identity System user guide provides detailed help with using HESA's signle sign-on system.

Record Contacts changes

The Record Contact is the first point of communication during the data collection and access to the Data Collection System (through the HESA Identity System) is managed by this nominated contact. If you are unsure who your Record Contact is, or the details of the contact have changed, please contact [email protected] to ensure that this is up to date and that the appropriate contact receives any necessary communications.

Unistats record coverage

Details of which courses should and should not be included within the Unistats return can be found within the coverage statement.  If you are unsure if your courses meet the coverage of the record or believe that you have no courses to return, please contact [email protected]

C19061 Data collection schedule

The full timescales for data collection can be viewed in the C19061 data collection schedule


August 2018 to May 2019

Providers' local preparation

March 2019

Validate data locally using validation kit

April 2019

Preparation guide for HESA subscribers released

24 May 2019

Data collection opens

10 July 2019

NSS data added

25 July 2019 (12pm)

Valid data submission required

16 August 2019 (12pm)

Sign-off deadline









Revision History

Providers should ensure that they refer to the most recent version of the coding manual. Any changes to the coding manual are listed within the Revision History.

Need help?

If you need any help please contact the HESA Liaison team at [email protected] or +44(0) 1242 211144.

Further education colleges should in the first instance contact the OfS team by emailing [email protected]

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

Issue summary Status Date raised Date resolved





Experiencing an issue not listed here? Let us know.

Release ID Release date Release summary
Month Scheduled areas of work
No releases yet  

Stages of data submission: HESA subscribers only

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 the quality assurance report 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.

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.