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Collecting and maintaining contact details

There are three activities that underpin your approach for collecting graduates’ contact details:


You will need to collect contact details for all the graduates in your Graduate Outcomes population.


The collection of graduates’ contact details can take place throughout the year. There isn't a formally required date for collection; all that is required is for you to have collected robust and comprehensive details by the specified return date for the relevant contact period. 

However, as a best practice recommendation, we would advise collecting contact details at (re-) enrolment/(re-)registration, as these details are part of the core information you need to collect about your students.

You must ensure that your collection of contact details complies with GDPR guidelines. You can read more about the data protection implications of Graduate Outcomes.

What is needed

In order to collect these details you will need a system/setup that is able to collate, maintain and update graduate’s contact details.

We will supply you with the documentation to support this collection activity, including:

While HESA will make the population file functionality available in Spring 2018, this will only become populated when Student/AP Student record contacts have returned the relevant data on students. It will be beneficial to coordinate with your colleagues who are responsible for the Student/AP Student record to understand when this data will be available in order to determine the population. For information, sign-off of this Student/AP Student data will not be available until November.

HESA are currently working with DfE(NI) to determine when the population file will be available for FE colleges in Northern Ireland.

Quality assure


Throughout the collection process, you should quality assure (QA) contact details to ensure their robustness and validity.

How you quality assure the information is up to you and will depend on your systems and processes. We would suggest that quality assuring the details at the point of collection would be most efficient.

Some examples of what could be required in this quality assurance process includes:

  • Ensuring phone numbers are the correct length
  • Ensuring phone numbers contain prefixes where appropriate (e.g. international numbers)
  • Ensuring email addresses conform to the right format.

What is needed

You will need to establish a QA process within your provider (if there isn’t one already).

We will supply:

  • Information on the specification of the information you need to return (available now)
  • The data collection schedule, covering what you need to return and when (available now)
  • [Only for those providers that also submit student data to HESA] The facility through the Student/AP student data collection system to allow providers to check your in-house generated cohort numbers against the automatically generated Graduate Outcomes population (available from Spring 2018).

Poor quality assurance of contact details will be evident in the survey contractor’s failure to contact graduates. The level of successful contact details (i.e. contact details that led to a survey response or explicit refusal) will be monitored by HESA.



You should actively maintain the contact details collected. This will involve encouraging graduates to update their contact details between the point they are collected and the point you return them to HESA.

What is needed

HESA strongly recommends thata you undertake a minimum of two dedicated activities to encourage your students/graduates to update their contact details before the survey takes place. Good practice suggests that graduates should be contacted by email at around 5/6 months and again at 12/13 months.

If you collect contact details at (re-)enrolment/(re-)registration, it would also be beneficial to conduct an activity in the student’s final weeks of teaching to ask them to check their details.

Providers should be aware that significantly more contact attempts than those recommended might discourage the graduate from participating and providing updated details.  

To support this activity, we will provide: