# Student Alternative record 2020/21

### Understanding the NSS reports in the Student Alternative record

Version 1.0 Produced 2021-08-20

### Contents

Producing the NSS reports

Frequently asked questions

Working through the specification

#### Producing the NSS reports

Once a valid file has been processed in the data collection system a series of reports are produced. One of these is the National Student Survey (NSS) report that identifies those students who are included or excluded from the survey population for the coming year.

To assist providers HESA have created a flow chart that can be used to identify whether or not certain students should be included in the NSS survey population and why.

Please note that this flow chart reflects the current year's NSS specification only and is subject to change year on year. This flow chart is designed to complement the population specification which is available as part of the main NSS report available from the data collection system.

#### Frequently asked questions

**Q1. When is the NSS file available?**

A. The NSS report is usually available at the beginning of September as part of the data collection. Once the report is available record contacts are notified by HESA.

**Q2. Who is eligible to be included in the survey population?**

A. All students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland studying on courses leading to undergraduate credits or qualifications will be surveyed in their final year of study. Participation in the survey is optional for providers in Scotland however the majority undertake the survey. The specification for the population details the exact criteria for determining inclusion and this can be found in the Student Alternative record coding manual.

**Q3. Are exchange students included?**

A. Outgoing exchange students are eligible for inclusion in the survey population however incoming students are not. The full details of the Instance.EXCHANGE codes excluded from the population can be found in the specification available from the Student Alternative record coding manual.

**Q4. Are dormant students eligible for inclusion?**

A. No, students who are returned on dormant modes (63/64) in the current reporting period are excluded from the survey population.

**Q5. Are students with an undefined course length eligible to be included?**

A. Yes, students on flexible part-time programmes will usually be surveyed in their 4th year as it is not possible to determine which is the final year.

**Q6. If a student is repeating their penultimate year of study will they be excluded from the survey?**

A. These students are eligible to be included in the survey population however they will not be surveyed in their final year.

**Q7. How can I find out why a student/cohort has been excluded?**

A. The Exclusion file generated on the data collection system includes a code for each record that has been excluded. This code links to a section of the specification and identifies why the student/cohort has been excluded. The flow chart above is also available to assist providers in identifying the cause of the exclusion.

**Q8. How can I find out why a student/cohort has been included?**

A. If you are unsure why a student has been included you are advised to follow the specification through to check that they meet all of the criteria. The flow chart above is also available to assist providers in identifying the cause of the exclusion.

**Q9. The specification is hard to follow. Is a more user-friendly version available?**

A. There is not an alternative specification available, however some of the key stages in the specification are outlined in more detail in this document.

**Q10. Can students be included where they have been in the survey population previously?**

A. Where a student has been included in the survey population for the previous year they are excluded from the survey. If a student is included in the population and then subsequently undertakes further activity they may be included in the population in a future year. However they cannot be included in the population in two consecutive years.

**Q11. The Student record has closed but I have found a student who should have been included in the NSS population. Is there anyway they can be included?**

If the student has been coded incorrectly in the Student record causing them to be excluded from the current survey population this cannot be amended through the data collection after the closure date. It is possible to add to the survey population in such cases however by contacting the Office for Students. Please note that the survey population available from the HESA data collection system will remain unchanged as it is based on the data returned to HESA. The Office for Students will advise HESA of any additions to the survey population to ensure that these students are not included in the survey the following year if their pattern of study has changed.

#### Working through the specification

#### What do Y1, Y2 etc refer to?

Throughout the specification the calculations refer to years using the abbreviation YX, where X is a numerical value. In this context Y1 will refer to the first year of the current reporting period. For example, in the C15051 (2015/16) collection Y1 = 2015. Y1-1 would therefore be the year prior to this, 2014. Full details of the Yx values can be found in the specification for the relevant year.

**Calculating the expected end date 'EXPEND'**

A. The expected end date is calculated in the following stages:

- If an Instance.ENDDATE has been returned for the instance they are excluded from the survey population.
- If the record has an unknown Instance.UNITLGTH (9) and the Instance.COMDATE is later than or equal to 01 August Y1-1 then they are excluded. For example for the 2015/16 record, a student with an Instance.UNITLGTH = 9 and an Instance.COMDATE of 30 September 2014 would be excluded.
- Calculate YEARADJ (see 'calculating YEARADJ' below)
- Calculate EXPEND using the formulae:

If Instance.UNITLGTH = 1 then EXPEND = Instance.COMDATE + (Instance.SPLENGTH + YEARADJ) years

If Instance.UNITLGTH = 2 then EXPEND = Instance.COMDATE + Instance.SPLENGTH months + YEARADJ years

If Instance.UNITLGTH = 3 then EXPEND = Instance.COMDATE + Instance.SPLENGTH weeks + YEARADJ years

EXPEND is also provided in the exclusion file to assist providers where the reason for exclusion has been given as 9 (expected end date outside of survey period).

#### Calculating YEARADJ

Year adjustment (YEARADJ) is used in calculating the expected end date. The year adjustment applies to all records. Where Instance.YEARPRG = 99 (not applicable) or is null, YEARADJ = 0.

Example 1

Where a foundation year has not been undertaken YEARADJ = (31 July Y2 - (Instance.COMDATE - 1 day)) - Instance.YEARPRG.

For example:

Instance.COMDATE | 2012-08-10 |

Instance.UNITLGTH | 1 (years) |

Instance.SPLENGTH | 4 |

Instance.YEARPRG | 3 |

In this case Y2 = 2015

(31 July 2015 - (10 September 2012 - 1 day))* - Instance.YEARPRG = 0.

*Note that there is a process in place (CEIL) which **rounds up** the difference to the nearest whole number. Therefore 4 months becomes 1 year.

Example 2

Where a foundation year has been undertaken YEARADJ = (31 July Y2 - (Instance.COMDATE - 1 day)) - Instance.YEARPRG - 1.

Instance.COMDATE | 2012-09-10 |

Instance.UNITLGTH | 1 (years) |

Instance.SPLENGTH | 4 |

Instance.YEARPRG | 2 |

In this case Y2 = 2015

(31 July 2015 - (10 September 2012 - 1 day))* - Instance.YEARPRG - 1 = 0.

*Note that there is a process in place (CEIL) which **rounds up** the difference to the nearest whole number. Therefore 4 months becomes 1 year.

#### Foundation Years and YEARADJ

Those providers who offer integrated foundation years should pay particular attention to the NSS population file. For those providers submitting data to HESA for the first time, or for whom continuing students are being reported who would have undertaken an integrated foundation year that was not reported to HESA, there will be students who are being surveyed in the incorrect year or omitted entirely.

The YEARADJ calculation is a step in deriving the NSS population which looks at the combination of expected length of study and year of programme to identify when a student is in their penultimate year. It identifies whether the student has previously been reported on an integrated foundation year (YEARPRG = 0) and adjusts the calculation accordingly. Where the foundation year was not reported to HESA the calculation cannot take this into consideration, thus what appears to be the penultimate year will actually be the final year and the student will be excluded from the survey population.

Where this is the case providers will need to contact the Office for Students to arrange to include these students in the survey population.

#### What is a 'short course'?

A.The short course exclusion includes two stages. The first looks at the length of the course and the second looks at the total FTE. If the total FTE is **lower than or equal to 100** the record is excluded from the population. If a record meets any of the following criteria it will be excluded under this code:

- If the course has a Course.TTCID of F (SKE programme).
- Where Instance.COMDATE is equal to or after 01 August Y2.
- Instance.UNITLGTH = 4 or 5
- Where the course is expected to last less than or equal to one year based on Instance.UNITLGTH and Instance.SPLENGTH.

Following these checks the total FTE (TOTFTE) value is calculated for the remaining records.

**Calculating TOTFTE**

If Instance.UNITLGTH = 9 (undefined) **OR** Instance.MODE is anything other than 01, 23, 24 or 25 **AND** TOTFTE is less than or equal to 100 the record will be excluded.

The TOTFTE calculation totals the Instance.STULOAD returned for this instance in the current and previous two reporting periods and then adds the projected load for the final year. The Instance.STULOAD value for the final year is taken from the value returned for the current year.

For example:

Year |
Instance.STULOAD |

01 | 50 |

02 | 50 |

03 | 50 |

Projected load for final year | 50 |

This student would therefore be included as the total FTE is greater than the 100 threshold.

If however the Instance.STULOAD was returned as follows then the record would be excluded because the total FTE is not greater than 100. Records where the total FTE is less than the threshold will be marked with exclusion code 10 'short course'.

Year |
Instance.STULOAD |

01 | 25 |

02 | 25 |

03 |
25 |

Projected load for final year | 25 |

For students who were included in the survey list of two years previous the total FTE (TOTFTE) calculation works slightly differently and considers only the Instance.STULOAD returned since they were last included in the survey population with the addition of the projected load for the final year.

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