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Student record - Data Futures

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Version 1.0.1 Produced 2018-03-07


The HESA Student record has been collected since 1994/95 from subscribing HE providers throughout the devolved administrations of the United Kingdom. The data collected as part of the Student record is used extensively by various stakeholders and is fundamental in the formulation of:

  • Funding.
  • Performance Indicators.
  • Publications (including UNISTATS).
  • League tables.

The Data Futures programme brings the requirements of three existing data collections - Student record, Initial Teacher Training (ITT) record and Alternative provider student record - into a new (in-year) student data collection specification.

The specification for the new Student record to be delivered by the HESA Data Futures programme has been produced following three principal bodies of work over several years:

  • The Higher Education Data and Information Improvement Programme (HEDIIP), which engaged extensively over three years and multiple projects to establish a vision for redesigning the HE data landscape. This included the definition of a new Data Landscape Steering Group, to oversee a sector-owned Data Language for Higher Education, supported by an observed model of data entities and relationships
  • Collection design project, which consulted and engaged widely to establish a draft student data collection specification based largely on HESA’s current mandate for data collection
  • The Data Futures Programme's Detailed design project, which has produced a more detailed specification based on a substantial volume of feedback from the Collection design project, and on further detailed work by the Data Futures team

Specifications released for the Alpha phase are 'in-development' specifications undergoing unit testing. The schema is assumed to be unstable during this period as changes will continue to be made based on learning uncovered through the Alpha pilot. Non-schema elements of the specification, such as guidance, are also assumed unstable and subject to change in response to feedback from the Alpha pilot. We welcome feedback and questions on the developing specifications, from all stakeholders in the project.

Record specific detail

Full details of the coverage can be found within the Coverage of the record.

Data collected

The Student record collects individualised data about students active during the reference period. A wide range of data items are collected, including: the student's entry profile and personal characteristics, module and course level data, funding information and qualifications awarded. The detail of the different items collected can be found in the Data dictionary located on the coding manual landing page.

Students who are studying overseas or who come to the UK for a period of less than 8 consecutive weeks during their programme of study are not included in the Student record but should instead be included in the Aggregate offshore record. This is a complementary annual return which provides a headcount of students studying through the provider's provision overseas. Please note the current coverage for the Aggregate offshore record has not changed.

Data collection

The Data Futures programme is moving to a model of continuous data collection, so it will be possible to submit data on a more regular basis and more closely aligned to business events. Data is related to business events, so if nothing happens during a period, nothing need be returned. We recognise that there are many different journeys HE providers are on towards improving the way they manage data, and so collection can still be managed through bulk file uploads whether through regular updates or through bulk updates towards the end of each Reference period as an old-style “commit” deadline.

More information on in-year collection, Reference periods and in-scope data is available in the Key concepts section of Data Futures.

Need help?

Contact Liaison by email or on 01242 211144.