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Coronavirus update

We are closely monitoring the very fluid situation surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus and we will adhere to government advice as it is published. We will update this notification as developments arise.

 Latest update - 15 January

Jump to: Exceptional guidance 2020/21 | Exceptional guidance 2019/20 | Validation | E-learning | Deadlines | FAQs

Exceptional guidance 2020/21

Exceptional guidance is now available for the following 2020/21 collections in the COVID-19 exceptional guidance area:

  • AOR 
  • Staff 
  • Student  
  • Student Alternative 

The published exceptional guidance replaces guidance for the same fields and entities in the coding manuals for the 2019/20 collections. This does not cover all fields and entities and so the exceptional guidance must be used in conjunction with the existing guidance in the coding manuals.

This also indicates where exceptional guidance that was in place for the 2019/20 collections no longer applies. In these cases the please refer to guidance in the 2020/21 coding manuals.

If providers have any feedback on the guidance, please provide this to [email protected] by 29 January 2021. Following this date, we will confirm any changes to the guidance based on feedback received.  

Latest update - 18 June

Jump to: Exceptional guidance 2019/20 update | Validation | E-learning | Deadlines | FAQs

Exceptional guidance 2019/20

Exceptional guidance for the Student, Student Alternative, Staff and Unistats 19/20 HESA collections, in response to COVID-19, is now live in a bespoke area. Exceptional guidance for other collections will be shared when it is available.

The published exceptional guidance replaces guidance for the same fields and entities in coding manuals for the 2019/20 collections only: please bookmark or continue to refer to this area as it will remain separate from the coding manual. Current exceptional guidance does not cover all fields and entities, so please review in conjunction with existing guidance in coding manuals.

Further to provider feedback, we have included version control in each section to provide as much clarity as possible and we will communicate with IDS record contacts and submitters when we publish new content. 

Please continue to send in areas that you feel may benefit from exceptional guidance, including any example scenarios that could be added to the guidance to bring further clarity.

COVID-19 exceptional guidance for 19/20 HESA collections


We are not planning any changes to validation for this collection year. Any quality rules triggered because of guidance changes will be switched off where appropriate with agreement from the relevant statutory customer. Please allow enough time when submitting your data to make requests for these switches. 

Find out more on requesting a switch (PDF)  


We have released an e-learning module to assist colleagues making a HESA return for the first time due to staffing issues; this will help new contacts to understand the requirements for a HESA return. This course has now been removed as there is no longer a need for it. However if you need support with HESA's records or systems please visit our dedicated online training space on the HESA website. 

All online training is available in our support and training area.


We are working closely with the OfS to provide further information on deadlines for providers in England. For providers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales the schedules can be found in the coding manuals. 


An FAQs area is now available about mechanisms to support you with your submission. This will be updated as required. 

Visit FAQs area

Latest update - 19 May

Jump to: Exceptional guidance update | Graduate Outcomes

Exceptional guidance update

The exceptional guidance for the Student and Student Alternative 19/20 HESA collections, in response to COVID-19 is now live in a bespoke area:

View Student and Student Alternative 19/20 exceptional guidance

Exceptional guidance for other collections will be shared when it is available.

The published exceptional guidance replaces guidance for the same fields and entities in coding manuals for the 2019/20 collections only. Please bookmark or continue to refer to this area as it will remain separate from the coding manual. Current exceptional guidance does not cover all fields and entities, so please review in conjunction with existing guidance in coding manuals.

Submission deadlines

We know that further clarity regarding deadlines is required and we are continuing to work with statutory customers on this. We will provide more information once it has been agreed.

Graduate Outcomes

Whilst remaining focused on the delivery of the Graduate Outcomes survey, HESA has been assessing the evolving situation around COVID-19 and the impact this may be having on our target audience of graduates.

We have already completed a number of actions but with the approach of a new cohort (those who completed a HE course between 1 February and 30 April 2019), we have been assessing the need for changes to the survey.

Click to expand the link below for more information - relevant provider contacts have been advised of this information by email.

View current survey status and changes from cohort C

Current status

Firstly, we wanted to confirm the current status of the survey at week 12 of cohort B. The staff that operate Graduate Outcomes, including our suppliers and HESA, remain well equipped to operate from home and have carried on surveying graduates throughout the changing advice by Government.

In terms of response rates, we are currently seeing strong performance on both online and telephone modes. The current situation with the pandemic does not appear to be having an adverse impact on response rates.

We are aware that the inclusion of subjective wellbeing questions may feel insensitive to those in distressing situations. However, we are not aware of any significant detrimental impact the survey may be causing to our survey participants. We are keeping this under review through direct feedback from respondents and through our contact centre. If we receive an increasing amount of complaints in relation to these questions, we may need to consider their omission altogether.

Changes from cohort C (June 2020)

With cohort C opening in June, it presents an opportunity to review any potential changes to the survey. However, we must balance the need to reflect the evolving situation in the data collection whilst maintaining a consistent survey collection (given that each full collection consists of four cohorts of graduates).

Given that cohort A was complete by the end of February and included a large international sample and cohort B was already in progress for much of the early onset of the pandemic in Europe and other parts of the world, the scope to change the survey significantly is limited. For example, the introduction of new questions is not in scope as they will not have been cognitively tested and we will not be able to collect responses for the entire population.

Therefore, our focus was on ensuring that graduates could self-administer the survey to accurately reflect their personal situation and that interviewers could support participants sensitively and appropriately.

The following survey changes will be implemented for cohort C and have been reviewed and accepted by the Graduate Outcomes steering group:

Furloughed staff
To ensure that respondents who are furloughed under the new Government scheme (remaining technically employed) select the correct option at ‘What activities were you doing in [CENSUS WEEK]’, we will add additional text to code 01 (Paid work) to clarify that this does include furloughed employees.

Subjective wellbeing
With higher levels of unemployment / volunteering / care-giving / interruptions to further education, a greater percentage of respondents are likely to skip past the work / study sections and arrive at the wellbeing questions relatively early-on in the survey. Under the current circumstances, to some individuals, this may feel insensitive. We have added supportive text to the survey (both on the online and CATI version) which signposts participants to mental health and wellbeing organisations across the world (the Samaritans, Befrienders Worldwide and Mind).

The cohort C survey will be updated on our survey materials page of the HESA website on 1 June 2020.

Our assessment of changes

We also wanted to share some of the other areas our assessment covered and why further changes would not be made to the survey:

Place of work
This assessment has highlighted a separate issue that affects a particular question more generally. Currently, we collect information on an individual’s place of work, in the form of country, postcode and town/city/area. With more people working from home, at present and perhaps for the foreseeable future, it is important that we clarify what is meant by ‘place of work’. This could be the usual place of work for the employee which could be their home location or location of the employer which may also vary between a head office and a local branch. Given the multitude of interpretations we have decided to review the wording of this question, discuss possible alternatives with the sector and implement necessary changes in year three. This would ensure comparability across cohorts within year two.

We reviewed the wording of the salary question considering recent changes to individuals’ salaries who have been furloughed. There is variation in both employers’ practice and the subsequent impact on individuals. No single question is likely to cover all bases and most importantly has the potential of creating confusion around a sensitive question. After careful consideration, we have decided to leave this question unchanged. We are keeping this under review especially through feedback from interviewers.

Supportive messages
We have assessed the current supportive wording on the Graduate Outcomes website and email invitations and are satisfied that it remains suitable for the evolving situation. We have, however, removed the particular tagline (‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’), from this guidance as this now differs by nation. We are keen to present a simple supportive message that is consistent and future proofed. Apart from this, the wording remains unchanged.

Ongoing changes and official statistics

We are keeping our data collection methods, engagement strategy with graduates and feedback from interviewers and graduates under constant review as this situation continues to evolve.

In relation to the production of official statistics for 18/19, we will contextualise the data in terms of COVID-19 in our statistical outputs. We know that over time, the data will become vitally important in helping to inform discussions about the impact of such major events on HE and on graduates. We are confident that the data we collect will provide high-quality information for the HE sector and beyond.

Previous statement - 6 April

Jump to: HESA reviews and collection changes | Data Futures

At HESA, our current focus is on working with sector representatives and statutory customers to establish the way forward for this year’s data collection activity. We are mindful of the pressures on the sector and the need to allow you to focus on the things that matter right now: protecting the interest of students and colleagues, and dealing with the severe challenges in planning for the next academic year and beyond. Please be assured of our continuing support for providers at this very difficult time.

Our approach to data collection planning is proceeding in two areas, working with statutory customers to: 1) establish new deadlines; and 2) agree changes to data requirements and guidance in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of this we are working through the HESA Provider Forum (comprising representatives from ARC, HESPA, SROC, IHE and other parts of the sector, along with the main funding and regulatory bodies) to establish the data collection issues facing you as providers and to discuss these with statutory customers.  

Following discussions with the HESA Provider Forum it is expected that the collections listed below will open on time. HESA is also preparing to work with providers to quality-assure the data to broadly the existing timetable, while being ready at the same time to extend the timeframe over which collections may run, subject to the ongoing discussions with our statutory customers.  

Deadlines for completing  these collections remain under consideration by statutory customers and more information will be communicated when more is known about the impact of the pandemic on providers’ ability to make data returns and the effect of any considerations on the use of data going forward:

  • Provider profile
  • Student / Student Alternative
  • Aggregate Offshore Record
  • HE-BCI
  • EMR
  • HESA Staff Record
  • ITT
  • Finance (for non-English providers; English providers are still required to supply this data as detailed in the letter sent on the 25 March by the OfS)

HESA reviews and collection changes

All current or planned record reviews are paused to prevent additional burden on providers. This includes the AOR and HE-BCI reviews as well as other potential changes.

HESA and statutory customers are working to minimise the level of change to collections, where possible. 

Data Futures

Data Futures programme activity is continuing, with HESA and Jisc working closely with statutory customers to progress the programme in line with their requirements. Updates on the programme for sector contacts are planned between now and the summer. As with the data model release last week, these updates will be for information only for the time being, and no action will be required by providers.  

Previous statement - 1 April

We have released statements about the impact of the COVID-19 on our schedule of Official Statistics publications. In line with the position put forward by the Office for National Statistics, these are specific to individual releases.

The main impact is to the Graduate Outcomes publications, although minor delays to the publication of Higher Education Provider Data: Finance and HE Business and Community Interaction are acknowledged.

The Graduate Outcomes publications will now be delayed due to the need to accommodate the impact of COVID-19:

  • Statistical Bulletin, Higher Education Graduate Outcomes Statistics: UK, 2017/18 previously scheduled for April is now expected to be released in the second half of May.
  • Open data release, Higher Education Graduate Outcomes Data previously scheduled for April is now expected to be released in the second half of May.
  • Performance indicators, Graduate outcomes, 2017/18, previously scheduled for May has been significantly delayed, at present we are expecting release during Autumn 2020

Previous statement - 26 March

Jump to: Graduate Outcomes | Official Statistics | Training

We are aware that the OfS have issued a communication indicating that sign-off deadlines for several collections will be relaxed. We are working with our statutory customers to understand the implications of this and will communicate the impact on HESA collection schedules and other HESA activity when it has been agreed.

Graduate Outcomes

Whilst remaining focused on the delivery of the Graduate Outcomes survey, HESA is acutely aware of the evolving situation around COVID-19 and the impact this may be having on our target audience of graduates.

As we continue to implement the engagement strategy for cohort B graduates, we have been exploring ways to adapt our approach and messaging to acknowledge the wider context. We want to support the delivery of the wider NHS / GOV.UK messaging to this key audience, explain why we are contacting them given the current situation and demonstrate our commitment to safety in the delivery of the survey. As you will know, the survey is a census survey at a fixed-point following graduation, and therefore HESA has little scope to differ the survey timetable. With this in mind, HESA has sought to continue the survey of graduates as planned.

At present we will not be changing the engagement strategy itself i.e. the number of contacts we make. Instead, we are in the process of adding supportive messages to email templates, SMS messages, the Graduate Outcomes website and twitter account.

The staff that operate Graduate Outcomes, including our suppliers and HESA, are well equipped to operate from home and have carried on surveying graduates ever since the new Government advice on homeworking was issued. So far, we have not seen a drop in response rates, the short-term trend this week in fact shows a slight increase.

We are mindful of the sensitivities surrounding this situation and the fact that our telephone interviewers are engaging with individuals across the world, some of whom may be experiencing significant challenges in their professional and personal lives. We are developing a set of guidance notes to help interviewers handle such conversations appropriately. In particular, we have identified leading national and international organisations that offer help to individuals experiencing emotional distress. All respondents will be signposted to these organisations.

We will keep our engagement strategy with graduates under review as this situation evolves.

Production of official statistics

This statement is adapted from text supplied by the Government Statistical Service.

Due to the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) we anticipate that there might be some changes in terms of our regular statistical production. The current disruption to the UK could affect the publishing schedule for some of our statistics. In some cases, the production of some data series may need to be suspended or delayed.

Decisions will be made on a case by case basis, taking into account what information is currently relevant given the situation, with the three pillars of the Code of Practice for Statistics (Trustworthiness, Quality and Value) guiding our decisions. Giving everyone access to statistics at the same time remains a fundamental principle of the Code, but where this cannot be maintained we will be open and transparent about this and any other potential effects on our statistics. These decisions will be underpinned by the Office for Statistics Regulation’s guidance on Changes to statistical outputs during the coronavirus outbreak.

We remain committed to providing the best and most accurate information we can and we will keep you informed as developments unfold.


In line with Government advice we have taken the decision to cancel all face to face training for the remainder of the 2019/20 training programme and where possible move to online delivery.

We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate directly with our delegates. Where we are able to offer online training we will communicate this through the appropriate JiscMail channels. For any questions, please email the Training team: [email protected]

Previous statement - 19 March

Jump to: Collection Systems | Liaison Team | Graduate Outcomes | Official Statistics | Training and events

We are in an unprecedented time for organisations, families and individuals. We know the focus at HE providers is on protecting the interest of students, colleagues and your related communities and above all, we want to offer our reassurance that we fully support HE providers in this endeavour.

We are working closely with our statutory customers across the UK to support them in the way they are responding to the situation. In doing this, we are seeking to balance the welfare of colleagues, at HESA and across the sector, with minimising the long-term disruption to the higher education sector.

Following a successful business continuity exercise ensuring the ability of our colleagues to work remotely, and in response to Government advice, we have closed the HESA offices.

At this time, all of our collection systems are running as usual and no changes have been necessary to published collection schedules.

We will be working closely with statutory customers over the coming weeks to coordinate our response to the virus. The situation is evolving, and we will continue to update this page and social media (see below) with any new information. Information relating to specific collections will also be included in our HESA weekly update email (which you can sign up for if you wish).

We have prepared a summary of headline information to reassure and provide support where possible.

Collection Systems

The HESA data collection systems are available and currently all collections are running as expected; we will communicate any updates to this as soon as they become available.

Our Liaison Team

Our Liaison team will continue to offer their helpdesk service to colleagues at HE providers.

To allow this service to continue whilst our colleagues are working remotely, we have a new phone number for reaching the Liaison team +44 (0) 1242 388 531. This will be available until further notice, or please continue to email [email protected] as you usually would.

Graduate Outcomes

We can confirm that all operational activity on Graduate Outcomes is continuing as usual. This includes the current collection of survey responses for cohort B graduates. We have been in regular contact with our survey partners, including our contact centre IFF, and can confirm that they have taken necessary steps to protect their staff and, like HESA staff, are also working remotely.

We are remaining in dialogue with our suppliers to ensure we can offer an uninterrupted survey operation and will keep the sector informed. Where necessary, we will take any action in consultation with our steering group.

Official Statistics

At present, our official statistics releases are expected to go ahead as detailed on our upcoming releases page. The next of these being the release of the Finance statistics on 31 March.

Training and events

We are offering online options for as many events as possible, with the cancellation or postponement of our live training events.

Where an online alternative is not appropriate, a full refund will be provided – there is no need for you to apply to us for this, we will automatically issue it.

Where this is possible, all delegates will be informed appropriately and in line with our Terms and Conditions will have the option to take up the alternative training event or cancel their booking and receive a full refund.

Should you have any questions, please contact the training team via email at [email protected].

Please note, we continue to offer e-learning which is available across data collections. Please visit the Support section of the HESA website which includes our e-learning and other useful tools and resources.

If you have further queries or concerns not covered by this update, please do email [email protected] and we will try to direct you to the information available.

Previous statement - 17 March 2020

Following on from our statement below, we are continuing to monitor the situation regarding the COVID-19 virus carefully. In accordance with Government advice, we have now closed our offices and our colleagues are all working from home.

This has a number of implications and we are undertaking a range of steps to protect our colleagues and stakeholders, as well as the services offered by HESA. We are moving face to face seminars, workshops or meetings online where possible and working with our statutory customers to understand the impact upon statutory data collection.

Impact on Liaison team support

•    Our Liaison team will continue to offer their helpdesk service to colleagues at HE providers. In the short term, this will only be via email ([email protected]), whilst we establish a way to open our phone lines remotely.

Impact on events

•    18 March Student Record introductory seminar in Cheltenham will be delivered online – delegates with booked places will be informed separately.
•    We are looking into an online solution for the HE-BCI Major Review Strategic Group on 30 March and will advise accordingly.
•    All of the advertised Student Record Advanced and Student Alternative Record Advanced seminars in April and May will no longer go ahead as planned – delegates with booked places will be issued with a refund shortly.
•    The Data Matters conference will no longer go ahead as planned.

At this time all data collection activity is continuing. We will inform you as soon as we can if this changes.
If you want to report an issue with data submission, related to coronavirus, please contact our Liaison team on [email protected].

Previous statement - 11 March 2020

We are closely monitoring the very fluid situation surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus and we will adhere to government advice as it is published. HESA is making additional preparations to its pre-existing Business Continuity plans to ensure services can continue to run should we be required to work remotely, or if the virus impacts our staff members.

At present and in line with current advice, all planned training events are going ahead. We will continue to review this in line with the latest guidance and will update event information and delegates accordingly.

We do not currently believe that that this outbreak will have a direct impact on the current data collections or services we provide to our subscribers and Statutory Customers.

We will monitor, update and revise this guidance as the situation and government advice develops. We will also update you if the outbreak starts to impact on our ability to continue to collect data in accordance with the current collection schedules. Please check our website regularly to ensure you always have the latest information.

Does this affect Data collections?

We are continuing to monitor the situation, particularly with respect to the Estates management collection C18042, which has a last submission date of 20 March. There is currently no plan to amend the data collection schedule.

Should there be an impact on HESA, we will work closely with Statutory Customers to review collection schedules.

How does this affect our training courses?

Our Student Record Introductory training course on 12 March and 18 March are scheduled to go ahead as planned.

Should there be any restrictions on movement within the UK, it is likely that we will have to cancel our live training courses and bespoke visits. If this was to occur, we will communicate directly with affected delegates.

Liaison Team support?

The Liaison team will continue to provide telephone and email support during our advised working hours (09:00 – 17:00). If there is a restriction on travel and HESA implements its working from home policy, we may opt for communications with the team to be via email only whilst we work to divert phone numbers and make alternative arrangements.

If you want to report an issue with data submission, related to coronavirus, please speak to our Liaison team on +44 (0)1242 388 531



Press Officer