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Unistats 2023/24: Support guides

This page provides an overview of the 2023/24 Unistats collection (C23061).

This should be used alongside the C23061 coding manual, which provides more detailed, technical information about the collection.

Unistats overview

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

The Unistats stream collects data about full-time and part-time undergraduate courses available for application for the next academic year. Details of what information needs to be returned are included in the Coverage document found in the coding manual.

The data we collect is currently published on the Discover Uni website (owned by the Office for Students and the higher education funding bodies in the other countries of the UK). The data is also available to the public and other information providers as an open dataset.

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.

The coding manual homepage includes all the technical information you require, including:

  • The data specification
  • File format specifications
  • A detailed collection schedule
  • Our XML data entry tool (available for some streams)
  • Quality rules.

This Support guides page collects together the following resources:

  • User guide
  • Data collection system: Known issues and release history.

In the Support area of the HESA website, you can find:

Our Data innovation section includes information about:

  • Open and recently completed record reviews, including information about changes we are implementing
  • Our Data Futures programme which will transform the higher education information landscape.

In the About section, you can find:

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

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

Find out more about Liaison

Please note that from C20061 HESA are supporting English Further Education colleges with their Unistats submissions.

Our JISCMail groups allow you to discuss specific streams with colleagues from across the sector. We also use the lists to circulate news regarding data requirements and coding manual and validation kit releases.

Join the HESA-Unistats JISCMail list

If you encounter any problems, contact Liaison

Stages of data submission

A. Sending data

Send data by clicking on ‘Send button' in the Data Collection system.



KIS data collection system



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


  • Files can have any name
  • Files must be in XML and conform to the relevant XML Schema Definition (XSD) file
  • Files can be compressed using PKZip/WinZip which will significantly reduce the upload time
  • Only a single file can be held in the system.

B. Automated Validation

Automated validation checks will now run.

Further details on the quality rules applicable to this collection can be found on the coding manual

The Quality Rules report will contain the details of any rules triggered by the submission.  Make any necessary amendments to the data and resubmit the file to the system.  To pass validation the file must not trigger any validation errors.

*Note: Corrections cannot be made online to the file submitted to the Data Collection system and instead must be made to the file held locally, and the file then resubmitted.

Where possible the quality assurance report will be produced even where validation errors exist.

*Note that the NSS and Graduate Outcomes data will not be available until July and the Unistats output file will not be produced until then.

When all validation is complete the data is then considered as valid and this will be indicated in the Data Collection system



KIS data collection system



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.


Once the file has passed all stages of validation and the Graduate Outcomes and NSS data is available, providers will have the option to 'approve the submission'. This will generate the sign-off form. A link to the sign-off form will automatically be emailed to the Accountable Officer/Head of Provider when available. The form should be completed and signed by the Accountable Officer (England and Wales) or Head of Provider (Scotland and Northern Ireland) and returned to HESA. This verification offers both the provider and HESA assurances regarding onward use of the data. Sign-off completes the data collection process.

The initial sign-off form can also be used (optionally) for the Accountable Officer/Head of Provider to nominate an individual with responsibility for signing off any updates made by the provider to the Unistats data after the submission deadline. Following publication of Discover Uni data in September only the Accountable Officer/Head of Provider or the authorised delegate can sign off further data submissions.