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Finance record 2015/16 (C15031): Major review - Beta template

Since June 2013, HESA has been co-ordinating a major record review of the Finance Statistics Return, for implementation in 2015/16. This was a fundamental review, which aimed to improve efficiency and reduce burden for HE providers, by streamlining requirements and aligning definitions across collections made by a range of organisations. This document aims to explain what happened during the review, where it has got to now and the next steps which impact providers. 


A strategic group comprising senior figures from sector organisations and HE providers was held to discuss the scope of the review and assist in setting the agenda for the review. A review working group was also established, comprising of HE providers, Funding Councils and other organisations, to consider all the emerging proposals. There was then a consultation with the sector from May to July 2014, during which 108 responses were received. Following this, a number of outcomes were agreed and approved by the HESA Board. 

The high level outcomes were:

  • The requirements for the new FEHE SORP 2015 to be incorporated – which includes the need to collect some restatements for 2014/15. 
  • We will be supplying pre-populated templates from the 2016/17 return onwards.
  • The financial tables in HEFCE’s Annual Accountability return (for providers in England and Northern Ireland) and SFC’s Annual Accounts return (for providers in Scotland) will now be combined with the HESA’s FSR. 
  • This new combined return will be called the ‘Finance record’. 
  • The return will need to be submitted to us by 1 December (2016). 

For further details see the announcement of changes, issued in November 2014, which gives detail for all of the changes.

Subsequent to the announcement of changes, we have been working with BUFDG, a group of higher education providers and the Funding Councils in an Implementation Group, in order to develop all the outcomes into a template and associated guidance. For more details on the review, process and memberships of the groups, please see our review page on the website. 

‘Beta release’ Template – redesigned completely to reflect the new SORP

Work on the template to support collection of the new Finance record is now substantially complete. We are today releasing a ‘Beta’ version of the non-functional template for the new Finance record. The work of the Implementation Group gives us high confidence that the template encodes the new SORP and requirements of the Funding Councils as currently understood. We are calling this a ‘Beta’ release to indicate that this is how we expect the final C15031 template will look, and to aid the sector in preparing for the new SORP.

The ‘Beta release’ template for C15031 bears some superficial similarity to the old template, because our ‘house style’ has remained consistent. However there are several important changes that have been made, such as: 

  • As much validation as possible has been included in the template now: including the year-on-year checks that usually happen in check doc. This will assist providers when doing their local preparations before the collection opens. 
  • The table names and numbers have been changed for almost all tables (including the completely new layouts for tables 1 to 4 to accommodate the new SORP). There is a mapping document from old to new tables to help with this. 
  • There are new tables included, which relate to country specific requirements – one for funding body grants for all countries, and a Scotland only table relating Table 3. 
  • In future years the template will be pre-populated with last year’s figures, which means providers will no longer have to retype the restatements from last year. There will be an option to overtype these, for those providers who may need to change the figures they submitted in the previous year. 


BUFDG and HESA are collaborating together with the Funding Councils to provide joined-up guidance and support for the new Finance record, with a new HESA Finance record discussion board on the BUFDG site added to the regular channels. We will be releasing a ‘Beta’ version of the guidance documentation in September 2015, to support your use of the Beta template.

Action during the Beta release period

We have provided the template a year earlier than usual, in order to facilitate a period for preparation and adoption planning. During the BETA release period (which will run until December 2015) BUFDG, individual providers and Funding Councils are invited to utilise the template to assist in understanding the effects of the new SORP on financial reporting.

Substantive issues with financial reporting/SORP should be raised through BUFDG, and your attention is drawn to the SORP discussion boards on the BUFDG website. Where a new discussion board for issues relating to the HESA Finance record will be made available shortly.


The Finance record return date has been brought forward to 1 December, and other dates amended substantially in support of this change. As well as releasing the BETA template now, the non-functional template release date has been brought forward by approximately three months. The functional template, preparation guide and the live collection system opening dates have all been brought forward by two months, to permit and encourage early engagement with the system. 

  • Spring 2016: Non-functional (final) template issued
  • Mid-August 2016: Functional template issued
  • Mid-August 2016: Preparation guide
  • 14 September 2016: Collection system opens
  • 1 December 2016: Return date
  • 1 December 2016: Send HESA copy of published accounts (via HEFCE for HEPs in England)
  • 1-22 December 2016: Data quality checking period
  • 12 January 2017: Last submission
  • 15 January 2017: Sign-off deadline

If you have any questions, please contact us by email or on 01242 211144.