Skip to main content

Introduction to HE finance data

Who is HESA?

HESA, the Higher Education Statistics Agency, are the experts in UK higher education data, and the designated data body for England.

We collect, assure and disseminate data about higher education (HE) in the UK on behalf of our Statutory Customers. As the trusted source of HE data and analysis, we play a key role in supporting and enhancing the competitive strength of the sector.

About HESA

What finance data do we collect?

We collect finance data from HE providers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland covering income, expenditure, balance sheet, statement of gains and losses, capital expenditure and senior staff pay (where available). Key Financial Indicators are derived from collected data.

From 2018/19 the Office for Students (OfS) has been collecting financial data from HE providers in England, including Alternative Providers (APs) for the first time. Note that the OfS do not collect data from further education colleges and sixth form colleges under the primary regulation of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). The data collected by OfS has been ingested by HESA and integrated with the data for HE providers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

For a number of tables, data is collected for the latest audited financial year as well as restated numbers for the prior year to align with provider's published accounts. The footnotes to tables state where restated figures are provided.

For more information on the coverage of the data, and the data items we collect please see:

Definitions for the HESA Finance record

How do we collect finance data?

HE providers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland submit data in the winter following the end of each academic year in templates provided by HESA. HE providers in England submit data to the OfS in the five months after their own financial year end. The data are quality assured and processed, including comparison against HE providers' published accounts. HESA then publish UK wide data in the following March.

We have developed detailed specifications for the data we expect providers to return to us. All the data goes through several stages of validation and checking, with most HE providers submitting their data multiple times to pass these checks. The OfS and HESA apply similar rigorous data quality validations.

Where issues are identified with data provision, HESA and the OfS provide higher education providers (HEPs) with the opportunity to make post-collection amendments to a dataset through either the fixed database facility, or through the OfS Data Amendments process.

The full HESA data specification can be found via our data collection pages:

Finance record 2018/19

The OfS has information pages on its collection for HE providers in England.

What data do we publish?

Nearly all of the HESA Finance record is published in HE Provider Data: Finance. The exception is some items of personal data and commentary on the pay of senior staff which is collected on behalf of the funding and regulatory bodies for higher education.

It is important to note that HE providers across the UK vary in size, academic function, geographical location, arrangement of environment and buildings, organisation and management approach. Be aware that data definitions sometimes change over time. This, and coverage changes can affect the validity of time series comparisons. We would therefore advise caution when undertaking analysis across time periods and between providers.

From which organisations do we collect data on finances?

We collect finance data from all publicly funded providers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Prior to 2018/19 we also collected data from publicly funded providers in England (plus the privately funded University of Buckingham) via the HESA Finance record. From 2018/19 the Office for Students (OfS) has been collecting financial data from HE providers in England, including Alternative Providers (APs) for the first time. Note that the OfS do not collect data from further education colleges and sixth form colleges under the primary regulation of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

What historical data on HE finance is available?

Open data icon

From March 2019 onwards, we have published current data in the form of interactive tables embedded in the website. 

Before 2019, we published much of our data as Excel spreadsheets. The full HESA Finance record was published in HE Finance Plus, with key data published as smaller tables in Finance of Higher Education Providers. All back issues of both publications are now free to download under a Creative Commons licence, as part of our Open Data roadmap.

View the publication archive 

What further guidance is available for interpreting our data?

For further guidance on interpreting our data:

  • The definitions to accompany our finance information offers definitions for all the key fields that appear in our tables
  • Our data intelligence section provides notes submitted by HE providers to comment on anomalies in their data.
  • The OfS has a definitions document on the key fields that they collect.

What further data is available?

For Tailored Datasets visit Jisc's data analytics directorate:

Jisc - Data and analytics