Skip to main content

Student Alternative 2021/22 - Mode of study

Back to C21054

Student Alternative 2021/22

Fields required from institutions in All fields

Mode of study

return to field list

valid entries
Short nameMODE

This field indicates the method by which a student is being taught their course.

Applicable toEngland

All instances.

Valid entries and labels
01Full-time according to funding council definitions
02Other full-time
23Sandwich (thick) according to funding council definitions
24Sandwich (thin) according to funding council definitions
25Other sandwich course/programme
43Writing-up - previously full-time
44Writing-up - previously part-time

For students on designated courses InstancePeriod.MODE should reflect the mode of study applicable to the full duration of the instance period.

If a student withdraws then the Mode should be recorded in accordance with what was planned. For example, if they were due to study full-time for the year, then they should have a Mode = 01.


Code 01 should be used when the student is on a course such that:

  1. during the instance year, the student is normally required to study for a minimum of 24 weeks and on average at least 21 study hours per week and the student is charged a full-time fee.
  2. for designated courses, the course is designated as full-time.

HESA will apply the 24 week rule to its definition of full-time in publications i.e. full-time will be all those students coded 01 in this field, together with all those students coded 02 and whose expected length of study (fields Instance.SPLENGTH and Instance.UNITLGTH) is 24 weeks or more.

Code 02 'Other full-time' should be used where the student has studied at full-time intensity but does not meet the definition for code 01 for the year of instance.

Valid entry 02 should be used when an instance is studied at full time intensity but for less than 24 weeks. For example, a short course or an 18-month course where the second year does not have 24 weeks of study. In the latter case the student's activity would be recorded as MODE = 02 in year 2. Valid entry 02 should also be used where a student completes the year of study earlier than expected and consequently has less than 24 weeks of study.

Where multiple instance periods are returned within the reporting year it is possible that each instance period will be less than 24 weeks in duration once vacation time is excluded. In this case, the InstancePeriod.MODE returned in the first instance period should reflect the normal mode of study and any subsequent instance periods on the course during the instance year would reflect any changes.

Example 1: A student studies full-time on a course throughout the year but has a break in study which means that there are not enough weeks of full-time study to meet the definition of 01:

In the first instance period the mode is recorded as 01 because, had the student not interrupted, the year of instance would have met the funding council definition of full-time. When the student returns in instance period two, the mode is reported as 02 'Other Full-time' as the overall duration of study within the year is less than 24 weeks.

Example 2: A student is studying full-time on an instance period that spans HESA reporting years:

In this case instance period 1 would be reported in two HESA reporting years. At the end of the first reporting year the instance period would be returned with MODE=01 and the same would be reported in the second reporting year unless overall for the instance period the activity does not meet the definition of 01.


As per current funding council/regulator definitions, valid entries 23, 24 and 25 should be returned when the Instance includes a sandwich year out meeting the following criteria:

- The course meets the definition of a sandwich course in accordance with funding council definitions (or as defined by the Student Support Regulations for providers in England).

- The sandwich year fulfils one of the following:

  • Any period of full-time study within the year of Instance are in aggregate less than 10 weeks.
  • In respect of that year of Instance and any previous years of Instance, the aggregate of any one or more period of attendance which are not periods of full-time study (disregarding intervening vacations) exceeds 30 weeks.

A record must be returned for every student enrolled on a sandwich course irrespective of whether they are in attendance at the provider or engaged in industrial (or other) training. Students should be returned as sandwich for every year of the Instance and not just those in which the industrial (or other) experience takes place. The students who are actually out on placement can be identified in InstancePeriod.LOCSDY.

InstancePeriod.LOCSDY valid entries (students in UK):

  • D On industrial (or other) placement for the year as a whole
  • E On industrial (or other) placement for a proportion of the year

InstancePeriod.LOCSDY valid entries (students abroad):

  • T Abroad for the whole year
  • U Abroad for a proportion of the year

Students who meet the definition of sandwich should be returned as either 23, 24 or 25 irrespective of whether the year is spent abroad or whether it is optional/compulsory. Students who undertake an ERASMUS+ placement as part of their sandwich course, should remain either valid entry 23, 24 or 25 during that placement.

Valid entries 23 and 24 should be returned for full-time students who meet the definition of sandwich.

If the sandwich year out causes a continuous absence from full-time study of at least one academic year, valid entry 23 ‘Thick sandwich’ would be returned.

Where the placement does not cause a continuous absence from full-time study of at least one academic year, but the aggregate of any placement activity exceeds 30 weeks, valid entry 24 ‘Thin sandwich’ would be returned.

Valid entry 25 should be returned for part-time students who meet the definition of sandwich.


Students who are actively writing-up are not considered to be dormant by HESA. A record is required for such students, with this field coded as 43 or 44 'Writing-up'. 'Writing-up' is generally associated with research students. Students on taught masters courses should not typically have their mode of study changed to 'writing-up', at least within the registration period, for example students on a one year taught masters course should be shown as full-time mode for both the taught and the dissertation phases of the course. Any change to show mode as writing-up would be expected only after the completion of the 12 month registration period.

Students are considered to be writing-up when they have completed their research work. Such students might still receive some supervision to assist them to complete their project and they might still have access to facilities at the provider.

Interruptions in study

Where a student takes a break in study or is inactive but included in the record to satisfy the continuity requirements the mode of study should be returned as previously reported. For example, a student studying part-time who completes their studies in HESA year 1 but is allocated an award in HESA year 2 would be returned on a part-time mode of study in both years.

Where a student suspends studies the InstancePeriod.NOTACT field must be completed.

Students that withdraw early

If a student withdraws early, InstancePeriod.MODE should be recorded in accordance with what was planned. For example, if they were due to study full-time for the year, then they should have an InstancePeriod.MODE = 01. This includes students that have left within two weeks but had confirmed attendance with the SLC.

Quality rules
Quality rules to follow
Reason required To allow standard populations to be defined and financial calculations made.
Part of
Field length2
Minimum occurrences1
Maximum occurrences1
Schema components
Element: MODE
Related fields
Date modified2022-05-05
Change management notesGuidance updated to clarify when students should be considered 'writing-up'.

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