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Student Alternative 2020/21 - Religion or belief

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Student Alternative 2020/21

Fields required from institutions in All fields

Religion or belief

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valid entries
Short nameRELBLF

This field records the religious belief of the student, on the basis of their own self-assessment

Applicable toEngland

Compulsory for all students.

Valid entries and labels
01No religion
04Christian - Church of Scotland
05Christian - Roman Catholic
09Christian - Other denomination
80Any other religion or belief
98Information refused
99Not known

Religion or belief is recorded on the basis of the student's own self-assessment.

Providers are expected to reconfirm this information with the student, on at least an annual basis.

Suggested questions and valid entries are those used in the 2011 Census.

England and Wales: What is your religion?

Scotland: What religion, religious body, or denomination do you belong to?

Northern Ireland: What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?

The phrase 'Prefer not to say' can be used when collecting the data.

Providers are expected to ask this question of new entrants and to make little use of code 99 'Not known’. However, in instances where a student does not answer the question then code 99 should be returned.

Code 98 'Information refused’ should only be used for explicit refusals

Coverage of the HESA coding frame is shown in the following table.

HESA coding frame for providers in: E S W NI
01 No religion Y Y Y Y
02 Buddhist Y Y Y Y
03 Christian Y Y
04 Christian - Church of Scotland Y
05 Christian - Roman Catholic Y Y
06 Christian - Presbyterian Church in Ireland Y
07 Christian - Church of Ireland Y
08 Christian - Methodist Church in Ireland Y
09 Christian - Other denomination Y Y
10 Hindu Y Y Y Y
11 Jewish Y Y Y Y
12 Muslim Y Y Y Y
13 Sikh Y Y Y Y
14 Spiritual Y Y Y Y
80 Any other religion or belief Y Y Y Y
98 Prefer not to say/Information refused Y Y Y Y
99 Not known Y Y Y Y

Advance HE has recommended inclusion of code 14 'Spiritual' which was not included in the Census. This will be grouped with 'Any other religion or belief' for onward analysis. Advance HE define 'Spiritual' as 'Spiritual - belief in the spiritual dimension of all life, which can be experienced directly and without the assistance of conventional religion'. All other categories are consistent with the census of the applicable country.

Advance HE has a number of resources relating to gathering information across the protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010. If you have any further queries regarding equality monitoring, please view

Quality rules
Quality rules relating to this entity are displayed here.
Part of
Field length2
Minimum occurrences1
Maximum occurrences1
Schema components
Element: RELBLF
OwnerAdvance HE
Date modified2021-04-07
Change management notesGuidance has been updated to reflect the 'Equality Challenge Unit (ECU)' being absorbed into 'Advance HE', therefore any reference to ECU has been replaced with Advance HE.

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