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Annual update

The annual update process enables year-on-year changes to be made to any of the HESA records. This is done to ensure that the record continues to reflect changes within the sector and the changing requirements of users.

Annual updates reflect ‘business-as-usual’ activity, rather than fundamental change. The kinds of changes that might result from an annual update are: new or updated fields or valid entries to reflect real-world changes; improvements to guidance or documentation; or deprecation of data items that are no longer required.

How does an annual update work?

Where suggestions for change have been received by a specified date, we will issue a ‘Request for comments’ survey. The purpose of this is:

  • To obtain a wide range of views on an existing record
  • To gather ideas and suggestions for improvement
  • To publicise any initial valid suggestions that have been received in the preceding period, from whatever source (including the requirements of our customers with statutory powers to require data).

Following closure of this survey, we will begin analytical work and liaison with appropriate stakeholders to determine possible next steps. For each idea that has been raised during the process, the following outcomes are possible:

  • Develop functional specification. We will draft a functional specification for further consultation. The additional feedback we receive will allow us to assess whether the proposal should be rejected, adopted in its current form, or subject to further revision.
  • Complete. We will implement the suggestion. Ideas that we implement are: straightforward to apply; adequately specified; solidly supported and/or have no drawbacks.
  • Defer. The idea is potentially viable, but raises issues or resource requirements. The idea will be progressed during the next appropriate major review.
  • Reject. Our further analysis suggests the idea is not viable and will not be progressed.

Final outcomes

At the end of the annual update process, a notification of changes will be issued to the sector. Under normal circumstances this will be issued one year prior to collection, to offer adequate notice to higher education providers and software houses.