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Finance 2021/22: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2021/22 Finance collection (C21031).

This should be used alongside the C21031 coding manual, which provides more detailed, technical information about the collection.

Finance record overview

We collect data across a number of streams. These streams focus on different aspects of higher education.

The Finance stream collects financial information on the activities of Northern Irish, Welsh and Scottish higher education providers. Details of what information needs to be returned to HESA are included in the Coverage document found in the Coding manual.

The data we collect on behalf of the sector is provided to governments and funding bodies in order to support the regulation of higher education. We also make data available to the public to enhance understanding of UK higher education and to support its advancement.

Our coding manuals provide you with all the necessary documentation to support your data return. The coding manual contains technical documents giving detailed information on the record's coverage, data specification and submission formats. Familiarising yourself with these documents will help you make an accurate and timely return.

Each collection has its own coding manual which can be found in the Data collection section of our site. By default, you will land on the open collection for each record; you can then select previous or future years.

The coding manuals will be updated throughout the data collection cycle and Record Contacts informed by email when new versions are made live. Be sure to check the manual's Revision history for a summary of changes.

You submit data via our Data Collection system. To access this, you will need to have an appropriate role in our Identity System (IDS). We publish an IDS user guide which includes information on creating and editing your account.

You will need to be given access to the Data Collection system by the relevant Record Contact at your provider.

Once you have access to the system you will be able to upload files and track the progress of the collection.


Our expert analysts have a thorough understanding of our records and processes. We are here to support you throughout the data submission process.

Please note the phone number for the Liaison team: +44(0)1242 388531.

Contact Liaison by email or on +44 (0)1242 388531 

Find out more about Liaison

Our JISCMail groups allow you to discuss specific streams with colleagues from across the sector. 

Join the HESA-Finance JISCMail list

If you encounter any problems, contact Liaison

Data collection system: Release history and known issues

Issue summary Status Date raised Date resolved


Release ID Release date Release summary

Stages of data submission

A. Sending data

Data collection system - Process flow

Data can be uploaded by clicking on the “Send Data” button.

Browse your computer to locate the file you wish to submit and upload the file to the Data Collection System.


  • The template can be saved with any name
  • Only one file can be sent at a time
  • The system does not support Excel 2003.xls format or older. Please 'Save as Type' Excel 2007.xlsx files.
  • Files must be returned using the most recent template (.xlsx) provided by HESA. The template for the Finance return can be downloaded from the Data Collection System under “Latest Reports and Downloads”.


B.     Validation

Insert-stage validation checks will now run. To pass insert-stage validation the file must not trigger any validation errors. Validation errors and warnings are listed in cells D2 and D3 of the Excel templates. To pass validation these counts should be at zero.

i. What to do if the file fails validation

Finance collection system

If the file fails validation the system will show the below status and reports. You should review the errors (and warnings if any). Make any necessary corrections to the data and resubmit.

 To pass insert-stage validation you will need to resolve all errors listed within the report.

How to obtain a switch

When errors are triggered in the Data Collection system but the data has been checked and is genuine, you need to request a switch. This is because your file will not pass the validation requirements of the collection deadlines if there are any remaining errors.

Please email your switch request to Liaison, stating which rule is causing the error to be triggered and for how many records, together with an explanation as to why the data is genuine.

This will then be forwarded to your funding council/regulator for them to review. They may agree the switch, ask for more information or state how they wish the data to be returned so that an error is no longer triggered.

This request should be sent well in advance of any deadline, to allow sufficient time for a decision to be made.

When a switch has been agreed, it will be applied to your data for the count specified and the data will be reprocessed. This will resolve the error.

If the count increases, the rule will be triggered again, and you will need to request that the count on the switch be increased. This will be forwarded to your funding council/regulator for approval.

ii. What to do when the file passes validation

You should review any validation warnings in the webform to ensure that the submitted data is genuine or correcting and resaving the data where necessary.

If the file passes insert-stage validation it will generate the suite of reports. These reports should be reviewed to ensure that the submitted data is an accurate reflection of your profile. We will also review these reports.

To proceed to commit-level validation a valid file needs to have been submitted and passed insert-stage validation checks. The data will then be classed as “Committable”.

Finance - Data Collection System


Once you are content with the data, you should commit your submission by processing a COMMIT transaction. This transaction will then send a copy of the submission to the HESA Data Quality Assurance team for us to undertake analysis of the return in parallel with you conducting your own analysis.

i. What to do if the file fails COMMIT?

If the file fails commit-level checks you should review the error report produced by the system, make any necessary corrections to the file and resubmit it.

Deleting files

Where you need to make amendments to data, upload a new file. Although all transactions are stored in the system, the new submission will replace the old one.

Why can't failed files be deleted?

Where a file fails insert-stage validation, the data contained within it is not uploaded to the HESA database and so will not be counted as part of the return.

ii. What to do if the file passes COMMIT?


A passed COMMIT transaction will lock the system to prevent the data from being amended and to allow the HESA Data Quality Assurance team to undertake analysis of the submission. To unlock the system you will need to request a DECOMMIT transaction from HESA. This will reverse the current commit and allow you to delete, resend and recommit data.

I need to amend my data, how do I get it decommitted?

You will need to contact Liaison either by emailing [email protected] or calling on 01242 388531 to request a decommit transaction.

Once we have analysed your committed return, data quality queries will be posted onto the Issue Management System data quality database. Relevant users will be notified by email when these queries are available to view. The Issue Management System User Guide provides help on using the Issue Management System.

Access the Issue Management System data quality database

Once your data has passed all the stages of validation, and any issues highlighted during credibility checking have been addressed, we will set the return to CREDIBLE. This produces the sign-off form.

When data is set to credible, a link to the sign-off form is automatically emailed to the head of the submitting organisation as well as the appropriate record contact. The form should be completed and signed by the head of the reporting organisation and returned to us by email or post. This verification offers both you and us assurances regarding onward use of the data.

Sign-off completes the data collection process.