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Data Futures FAQ

Frequently asked questions brings together common queries that have arisen during the Data Futures process. It also supports the new Coding manual (Data Futures).

If you have any questions which are not answered by the FAQ please contact Liaison by email: [email protected], or phone: +44 (0)1242 211144.

Further supporting resources, and information around key concepts and Data Futures, are also available here:

Data Futures resources          Key concepts          Data Futures hub  

Coding manual

Is there a Glossary to explain key terms?

Yes, you can find the Glossary here

What are the key differences between the current Coding manual and the Data Futures Coding manual?

The key differences between the current Coding manual and the Data Futures Coding manual are discussed in the Detailed design phase section.

Why is there only one Coding manual?

The Data Futures programme has taken three separate data collections, and translated them into a single collection, expressed in sector-owned, observed data language. Further information about this can be found in Key concepts.

How is the Coding manual (Data Futures) different to previous manuals?

As Data Futures moves collection from an annual process to in-year there are a few key differences between the current Coding manuals and the Coding manual (Data Futures). These are explained in the Detailed design section.

What’s changed since the Collection design project?

Much of what was agreed during the Collection design project has been carried forward into the Detailed design output. As a result, some of the items previously available in Data Futures resources have now been incorporated into version 1.0.0 of the Coding manual (Data Futures) and will no longer appear separately in the Data Futures resources. A couple of key changes to be aware of are listed in the Detailed design section.

How does this affect the General Medical Council (GMC) collection?

HESA will be working with the GMC to develop an appropriate coverage statement and specification for the capture of module marks, to support the recent announcement that HESA will be collecting data on GMC’s behalf.

What is the provision for further education (FE)?

The following letter was sent out to those providers with Further Education and Degree Apprenticeship students:


I am writing to you with an update that affects the services HESA provides to providers with Further Education and Degree Apprenticeship students. Our records indicate you may be utilising these services. The contents of this letter will shortly appear as an FAQ on the HESA website, but I wanted to write to you personally, as you may wish to take action in response to this.

In October 2017 we published a data specification for the new HESA Student record to be collected in 2019/20 as an outcome of the Data Futures programme. This new specification improves student data collection as it is designed to better accommodate the increasingly diverse ways that HE providers educate students. This is an investment in the future rationalisation and standardisation of HE data flows and it improves the timeliness of HE data collection, and therefore its usefulness.

However, the 19/20 HESA student data specification does not currently include:

· Data fields in the HESA student record to collect data about Further Education provision being undertaken at HE providers, as an alternative to some elements of direct reporting.

· A facility for HE providers offering Degree Apprenticeships to submit an enhanced HESA Student record in order to generate an Individualised Learner Record to support the HE provider to comply with their reporting requirements to the ESFA (England only).

We are committed to delivering these services until the end of the 2018/19 academic year. We cannot commit to delivering these services beyond summer 2019 at this stage.

We are engaging with statutory customers to ascertain whether there will be a requirement for HESA to collect this data or to support these services in the future. We would like to continue to provide these services subject to an assessment that HESA’s continued provision of these services is viable and represents the best value for the sector.

Given the uncertainty inherent in this situation, I understand that you may wish to make contingency plans should these services be withdrawn. I anticipate being able to provide an update later in the spring, but if you have any questions or comments arising from this letter, please contact our Institutional Liaison team on 01242 211144 or [email protected]

Key concepts

What does in-year collection mean?

We are moving from a system of discrete and retrospective annual data collections, to a model of continuous data collection. Data is related to events, so if nothing happens during a period, nothing need be returned. Find out more about what in-year collection means in Key concepts.

What is a Reference period?

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. Find out more about Reference periods in Key concepts.

How will Reference periods work in practice?

There will be three Reference periods over the traditional academic year, as this common timetable reflects both the majority of activity and respects the different delivery patterns of courses with different start dates. Find out more about how Reference periods will work in Key concepts.

What happens at the end of each Reference period?

The process at the end of each Reference period is covered in Key concepts.

How will the sign-off process work?

The move to continual submission and quality assurance means that HE providers will continuously submit and quality assure their data throughout the year. Further information about the sign-off process can be found in Key concepts.

What is an In-scope period?

An In-scope period is the duration for which each entity is relevant for sign-off by an HE provider. Data submitted prior to the In-scope period will not require sign-off until it becomes in scope. Submission after this period is subject to exception processing. Find out more about what In-scope periods are in Key concepts.

Will further information about in-scope periods and the treatment of out-of-scope data be published?

Yes, this will be made available as the Alpha phase progresses. If you would like to learn more about what in-scope means, please go to Key concepts.

Where have segments gone?

As part of the Collection design project, HESA used the concept of segments to split the data model into coherent groups of information. As the model developed during Detailed design, the significant amount of crossover between segments meant it was no longer sensible to split data in this way and that the Data dictionary would provide more value by showing all entities/fields in a single view.

Content yet to be released

How is quality assurance going to be approached?

Please refer to the quality assurance information available in Key concepts.

When will the scenarios - example journeys indicating the treatment of student and course use-cases - be available?

Example journeys indicating the treatment of student and course use-cases will be made available during the Alpha phase.

Will guidance (at field/entity level) be published?

Yes, this will be made available as the Alpha phase progresses.

When will the quality rules be available?

Quality rules, including WHEN…THEN statements and tolerances by Reference period, will be made available towards the end of the Alpha phase.

Where is the information regarding derived fields?

Derived fields, including detailed specifications, are being worked on during the Alpha phase and will be published towards the end of this phase.

When will the credibility reports be published?

Credibility reports, including wireframes and details, will be made available during the Alpha phase.

I can't see the answer to my question from Collection design, who can I speak to about this?

There are a number of questions from the Collection design phase that are still under consideration and will be answered during the Alpha phase. If you have any immediate concerns or queries that you would like to discuss, please contact Liaison by email: [email protected], or phone: +44 (0)1242 211144.

Get Involved

  • The Data Futures programme will present multiple opportunities to get involved, provide feedback, and ask questions.
  • You can join our Data Futures JISCMail group for the latest updates and milestones.
  • If you want to get in contact with someone from our Data Futures team, please email.