Skip to main content

Introduction to data on HE staff

Who is HESA?

HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) is the expert organisation in UK higher education data and analysis. We have been collecting, processing, and publishing data about higher education (HE) in the UK since the 1994/95 academic year.

As the trusted source of HE data and analysis, HESA plays a key role in supporting and enhancing the competitive strength of the sector.

About HESA

What data do we collect on staff?

We collect data from universities, colleges, and other HE providers about academic and non-academic staff who have a contract of employment with the HE provider. The exception is non-academic staff on 'atypical' contracts.

We collect data on the personal and demographic characteristics of staff, as well as information about their contracts and work patterns. We also collect information on the jobs that academic staff had before entering higher education, and what they go on to do after leaving academia. 

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

Definitions for the HESA Staff record

How do we collect data on staff?

HE providers currently submit an annual data return with information about their staff. This data is submitted retrospectively – so staff employed during the academic year September 2019 to August 2020 was returned to us in  September to November 2020. We rigorously quality assure and process the data which we then publish in January and February of 2021.

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

Staff record 2019/20

What data do we publish?

All of the tables we publish are collected together in our HE Staff data pages for ease of reference. Most tables are created specifically for the HE Staff data pages, but we also include tables and charts from our Statistical Bulletin, Higher Education Staff Statistics: UK, 2019/20.

From which organisations do we collect data on staff?

For 2018/19 and earlier years the Staff record includes all publicly funded HE providers in the UK and the University of Buckingham.

From 2019/20, coverage expanded to include all English providers registered with the Office for Students’ (OfS) in the Approved (fee cap) category and all publicly funded HE providers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

View lists of HE providers included in HESA data

What historical data on staff in HE is available?

Open data icon

From February 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. Detailed data on staff from our Staff in Higher Education publications is now available free of charge, under a Creative Commons licence, as part of our Open Data roadmap.

View the publication archive View archive of Staff statistical bulletins and first releases

Why do we round and suppress data?

HESA data is collected for statistical research purposes, but student and staff data can be 'personal data' in its raw form that needs to be protected from unauthorised exposure. Therefore, a Standard Rounding Methodology is used in all HESA publications and must be used by other users of HESA data too. 

Learn more about rounding and suppressing data

What further guidance is available for interpreting our data?

For further guidance on interpreting our data:

  • The definitions to accompany our Staff 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.

What further data is available?

HESA’s data analytics team has joined Jisc to provide enhanced data analytics for the higher education sector, underpinned by trusted HESA data.

Requests for bespoke data extracts can be made to the Jisc Tailored Datasets service.