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Student Alternative record 2020/21 - Data collection schedule

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Student Alternative record 2020/21 - Data collection schedule

Version 1.3 Produced 2021-05-26

The document below is designed to guide providers through the stages of data submission for the Student Alternative record.

Commit and final commit dates- providers in England

For providers in England, these deadlines still apply, however the OfS have confirmed that extension requests and late forms will not be required where these are not met.

Commit and final commit dates- providers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

These are not statutory deadlines this year and we will not require written confirmation if these dates are not met.

We recommend that providers follow the normal timeline to progress through the data collection, as achieving these milestones ensures that providers and HESA are well placed to achieve signed off data by the sign-off deadlines.

HESA and statutory customers will be using these dates as checkpoints with providers to help us to understand your progress towards the sign-off deadline. You will therefore still receive reminders from us for these dates and we may be in touch afterwards to check in on your progress if you have not been engaging with our systems.

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.

Providers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales should notify HESA and your funder/regulator if you foresee any issues with meeting the sign-off deadline.

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.

At a glance

From August 2020 Data capture and collation
January 2021 Validate data locally using validation kit
March 2021 C20054 Data Collection system opens
22 September 2021 Return
22 September 2021 Nil-return confirmation
28 September 2021 Commit
28 September to 08 November 2021 Data quality checking period
08 November 2021 Final Commit
15 November 2021 Sign-off

Missed deadlines

HESA is required to report any providers who miss any of the deadlines detailed in the schedule to the relevant statutory customer. These are the return, nil-return confirmation, commit, final commit and sign-off deadlines.

Providers in England are required to complete a late form for all missed deadlines. Please note that the Accountable Officer is required to sign the late form for the final commit and sign off deadlines, however, they should be kept informed of any missed deadlines. For all administrations the reason for late submission or extension will be shared with your primary regulator or funder.

Providers are reminded to make use of the HESA Liaison team and to make them aware of any issues that could impact on your provider's ability to meet these deadlines.

Detailed requirements

From August 2020: Data capture and collation

Providers should read the C20054 Student Alternative record coding manual and associated documentation for details of the requirements for the return.

During these months providers will need to load and maintain local student record systems including registration, enrolments, qualifications and, if applicable, the UCAS data for HESA.

January 2021: Validate data locally using validation kit

HESA's data quality assurance processes are outlined in the Validation overview. The C20054 validation kit is made available to download from Validation kits. The validation kit enables providers to test their data locally ahead of the Data Collection system opening. Providers are strongly encouraged to use the validation kit as part of their data preparations.

A guide to using the validation kit can be found at Help with XML validation kits.

Alternatively, please contact Liaison.

March 2021: C20054 Data Collection system opens

The C20054 collection is available on the Data Collection system (https://datacollection.hesa.ac.uk) giving providers the opportunity to test files against quality rules ahead of the return deadline.

The C20054 Student Alternative Data Collection system will release functional components of the system to providers incrementally.

It is a provider’s responsibility to ensure that they are progressing reasonably towards the return deadline; if any issues become apparent or you require assistance with the submission process then please contact Liaison. HESA does monitor provider interactions to feed into their own risk assessments and this information may be shared with the primary regulator or funder of a provider.

22 September 2021: Return

Providers are required to send one complete data file that has passed schema and business stage validation and has no entry profile errors to HESA by 23:59 on 22 September 2021. Complete data is defined as all students that are in coverage of the record for the reporting year. It is not permitted to return dummy data; however, HESA accept that due to late exam boards qualification awarded data may not be included by this deadline. Where business errors are triggering for genuine data, a switch will need to be requested. This request should be sent to Liaison by email detailing the rule and an explanation for why this data is genuine, in good time prior to the return deadline.

22 September 2021: NIL Return confirmation

Providers are required to submit a Nil return form to indicate that their provider has no provision which meets the eligibility criteria for the Student Alternative record as specified in the coverage of the record. The completed form needs to be emailed to Liaison before 5pm on 22 September to guarantee this will be actioned on the deadline. The form is available from the coding manual and needs to be signed by the provider’s Accountable Officer (England) or Head of Provider.

28 September 2021: Commit

Providers are required to send complete data that has no remaining errors and have committed the data on the Data Collection system by 23:59 on 28 September 2021. This schedule allows the maximum amount of available time for data quality checking. Where errors are triggering for genuine data, a switch will need to be requested. This request should be sent to Liaison by email detailing the rule and an explanation for why this data is genuine, in good time prior to the commit deadline. For further information about obtaining a switch, please see the Submitting and Validating data section in the Student Alternative support guides.

Where a provider requests that their file is decommitted before HESA data quality analysts have been able to check the file then this will count as a missed deadline.

28 September to 08 November 2021: Data Quality checking period

This is an iterative process during which providers may need to submit, commit, review and decommit their data several times to ensure the final submission is credible. The suite of web reports should be reviewed by the provider to ensure that the data submitted is a credible representation of your organisation.

During this period HESA data quality analysts will examine data committed by all providers. Please note that the Office for Students will also raise data quality queries for providers in England during this time. If any anomalies are found queries will be raised through the Issue Management System. Nevertheless, providers are in a better position to recognise more detailed anomalies within their data, using local knowledge of the intricacies of their own organisation. As a consequence, providers are required to either resubmit their data to amend these anomalies or provide an explanation in the Issue Management System as to why these apparent anomalies are genuine.

HESA analysts aim to check files within 5 working days following a provider committing their file and responses to data quality queries raised by HESA will be reviewed within 2 working days. However, during busy periods i.e. around the commit deadline please be aware that this may take slightly longer.

Upon satisfactory completion of this process data will be set to credible.

08 November 2021: Final Commit

Providers are required to commit their final file on the Data Collection system by 23:59 on 08 November 2021.

Once the file has been committed it will be checked by a Data Quality Analyst and this can result in additional data quality queries that require a response. Providers should be aware that data quality checking can take up to 5 working days and should therefore ensure that they have sufficient time to make any required changes based on these queries and/or respond to these queries ahead of the sign off deadline. All data quality queries need to be resolved before the data can be set to credible.

15 November 2021: Sign-off

Providers are required to have their data marked as signed off on the Data Collection system by 15 November 2021. The sign off form needs to be emailed to Liaison before 5pm on 15 November to guarantee sign off on the deadline.

Once a provider's data has been set to credible on the Data Collection system, the 'sign off’ button can be selected which allows the sign off form to be downloaded. The sign off form must be completed by the provider's Accountable Officer (England) or the Head of Provider. Once completed, the form should be emailed to [email protected]. Please note that the transaction number on the sign off form must correspond to that of the data being signed off. Sign-off completes the data collection process. Timely sign-off ensures that your data is included in any data deliveries to statutory customers, as well as onward uses of the data for publications and analysis.

Post collection information

Providers should download and keep copies of all relevant reports that they are likely to need during the year. This will be necessary as access to the site will be restricted after the collection has closed. Providers are advised to review their expected population reports in preparation for the following collection.

Targets that were set during the collection will be sent to providers and should be reviewed. The record contact will be notified by email once targets have been assigned in the Issue Management System and providers should ensure that processes are put in place to implement any changes to data collection required.

If a provider is aware of any errors in their data, then they should inform their primary funder or regulator. Providers in England should notify OfS through the data amendments process. This may result in a request for the provider to go through fixed database. Providers should also notify HESA so a data intelligence note can be created.


Need help?

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