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Data Futures resources

Page updated 14 September 2021

Data Futures e-learning

This is Data Futures: introduction to the programme

Data Futures Specification e-learning

HE Provider: supply side

The data model translates the Student and Student Alternative records into a single data stream.

Details of the entities and fields to be collected will be presented in the Data dictionary in the Coding manual.

To view the diagram below in full-screen, right-click and select 'open in new tab'.

Data Futures model diagram showing updated entities and flow of data


A Reference period is a fixed period of time, the end of which, aligns to when HESA’s statutory and public purpose customers require sector-wide data and information. The diagram below summarises the structure of a Reference period:

Key concepts what is a reference period

Key terms relating to a Reference period:

Sign-off: The process of a defined role (for example Vice Chancellor) making a formal declaration that the data submitted to HESA for a given collection represents an honest, impartial, and rigorous account of the HE provider’s events up to the end of the reference period. 

Dissemination point: The specified date, after the end of a Reference period, by which signed-off data will be extracted and supplied to HESA's data customers. Data disseminated at the Dissemination point will be used for official accounts of the higher education provider’s activity for statistical, regulatory, and public information purposes.


Quality assurance will happen within the context of a collection. Quality rules and reports will compare the incoming data with that sent in previous collections to ensure consistency and look at changes over time. 
Quality assurance will be automated as far as possible to ensure rapid feedback to providers. In addition to greater automation we will streamline the process where possible based on feedback from the existing submission process and the Alpha and Beta Pilots. As an example of the efficiencies that we might introduce: tolerances that could be adjusted on a per-provider basis, tolerances applying to more than one collection, and managing quality issues within a single system. 

Quality checks analogous to the existing ‘continuity’ checks will be in place to monitor changes to particular data items between collections. Some items in the model will relate to data that is not expected to change, for example date of birth, and changes to these items will be monitored through ‘updateability periods’. Changes outside of the expected ‘updateability’ period for an item will be highlighted as part of the quality assurance process. 

Quality thresholds will, where appropriate, be driven by the data. For example, information about entry qualifications might be required to be known 8 weeks following the registration start date. This is intended to ensure that providers have a sufficient window to capture and assure data for all students irrespective of whether they commence studies at the beginning or the end of the Reference Period. Quality checks will be in place to monitor completeness and updateability – ensuring that data is returned within the expected period and of high quality within the expected timeframe 

The Data Futures preparation assessment is intended to help practitioners to:

  • Reflect on, and evaluate preparedness across a range of information management categories
  • Prioritise areas for further action
  • Guide discussions with software providers
  • Communicate levels of comfort and concern to senior managers



As part of our commitment to transparency, we will publish any relevant external Data Futures presentations in this section.

Presentation Supporting information

Thumbnail of Data Futures update presentation given at Independent Higher Education conference October 2021


Alison Berry, Head of Operations and Performance led a Data Futures update session at the Independent Higher Education (IHE) Annual conference, October 2021.


SROCfest2021: Data Futures Programme Update (external link, opens in new screen: link to YouTube video recording of presentation)

Emily Carter, Data Futures Project Manager, gave a Data Futures programme update on Monday 22 March 2021 at the Student Record Officers' online Conference, SROCfest2021




HESA Data Platform - demonstration by product owners

Remote demonstration to the Programme Board of the Data Futures HESA Data Platform, October 2020.

No real data is being used and providers' names were chosen to represent different administrations.

Data Futures Unit4 presentation


Remote presentation given on 5 May 2020

Software suppliers Data Futures remote workshop 21 May 2020


Remote workshop given on 21 May 2020


A Glossary of key terms has been created to use alongside the Coding manual (Data Futures).

If you have any queries over the terms used or requests for additional words to be considered, please email [email protected].

Click through to the Glossary

Frequently asked questions and links to further resources that support the Student - Data Futures coding manual.

If you have any questions which are not answered by the FAQs please contact Liaison by email: [email protected], or phone: +44 (0)1242 388 531.

Data Futures FAQs

Sign up for the HESA weekly update

Data Futures operational updates (coding manual releases, resource updates, etc) will now be available via the HESA weekly update. If you are not a HESA operational contact, you can still sign up for the HESA weekly update; you can change your preferences at any time.

Data Futures monthly update

In August 2022, providers will need to start collecting data using the Data Futures data model for submission to the HESA Data Platform (HDP).

We have launched the Data Futures monthly newsletter to regularly communicate updates, milestones and useful content: 

  • Programme timeline, upcoming key dates and readiness requirements.
  • Updates on the Beta phase.
  • The latest e-learning.
  • Insights into the work of the programme: high-level overviews and deep dives.

You can opt in to receive the newsletter via the form linked below, and you can change your preferences at any time.

Sign up for the Data Futures monthly update