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Definitions: Students

The following definitions relate to our Student record 2007/08 to 2019/20.

Student coverage

HESA Student data is collected for all students registered at a reporting higher education (HE) provider who follow courses that lead to the award of a qualification(s) or HE provider credit. Higher education students for the purpose of HESA's data collection are those students on courses for which the level of instruction is above that of level 3 of the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), or the former Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) National Qualifications Framework (NQF) (e.g. courses at the level of Certificate of HE and above).

Each Instance where a student is enrolled on such a course is counted separately. To avoid overcounting some types of students are excluded from published figures - see Standard registration population.

Students registered as studying wholly overseas are excluded from the HESA Student record and counted separately in the Aggregate offshore record. If it is known at the beginning of the course that a student will spend a block of eight weeks or more in the UK as part of their programme then they are included on the Student record.

HESA student data is collected from HE providers in all nations of the United Kingdom. From 2019/20 published data includes HE providers registered with the Office for Students in England, publicly funded Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Further Education Colleges with HE provision in Wales.

Before 2016/17 HESA publications included fewer providers, being restricted to publicly funded HEIs from all nations plus the University of Buckingham. From 2016/17 FECs  with HE provision in Wales were included. From 2014/15 to 2018/19 data was published separately for Alternative providers in England. For definitions relating to alternative providers in 2014/15 to 2018/19 please see the archived Definitions: Alternative Provider Student. Some providers continue to submit data to HESA via the Student Alternative record collection which does not include all of the same data items as the Student record collection.

The reporting period for the HESA Student record is 1 August to 31 July.

Courses involving collaborative or franchising arrangements are administration specific:

In England and Northern Ireland all students included on the Higher Education Students Early Statistics Survey (HESES) return to the Office for Students (previously HEFCE), whether fundable or not, are returned to HESA. This includes all students funded through franchised, associate and regional college arrangements. Students funded through an Office for Students (previously HEFCE) recognised funding consortium or students registered at another HE provider, although included in the HESES return of the lead HE provider, are not included within the HESA return of that HE provider. These students are included in the HESA (or the Data Service) return of the registering provider.

In Wales students included on the HESES return to the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), whether fundable or not, are returned to HESA regardless of where the student is registered. This includes all students funded through franchise arrangements where the provision is franchised out from the HE provider. Students who are franchised in to the HE provider are excluded. The term franchise, also referred to as outreach, in HE in Wales refers to a HE course taught at a provider (the franchisee) which is not directly in receipt of funding from HEFCW for that course, and for which quality assurance is provided by another Welsh HE provider (the franchisor). Students taught at HE provider in Wales may be registered at the franchisee or franchisor provider. However, students registered at providers outside Wales, with a Welsh HE provider providing quality assurance, are not included within the definition of franchised students.

In Scotland students taking articulated or franchised courses at further education (FE) colleges, or other courses at other HE provider or FE colleges, for the years of such courses for which the HE provider does not provide any of the teaching input, does not receive any funding or does not receive any tuition fee payment (e.g. from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland) are excluded from the HE provider's return to HESA. In the case of those years of a course for which two or more HE providers are involved in providing the teaching input and/or receiving funding or tuition fees, only one of the HE providers includes the students in its returns to HESA. It is up to the providers concerned to agree between themselves who should be responsible for making the returns to HESA, and for which years of the course (or for which students on a particular year of the course), as seems most appropriate given their administrative arrangements.

Standard registration population

The HESA standard registration population ensures that similar activity is counted in a similar way irrespective of when it occurs. The standard registration population has been derived from the HESA Student record, from all registered higher education and further education student instances active at a reporting HE provider in the reporting period 1 August to 31 July and following courses that lead to the award of a qualification or HE provider credit.

The population splits the student experience into years of study. The first year is deemed to start on the commencement date of the student instance, with second and subsequent years starting on, or near, the anniversary of that date. Student instances are counted once for each year of study. However students who leave within two weeks of their instance start date, or the anniversary of their start date, and are on a course of more than two weeks duration, are not included in the standard registration population.

The Student Alternative record differs from the Student record in that student instances are split into instance periods which are typically analogous to the concept of a provider's academic year. Instance periods which represent inactive activity are not considered in the derivation of this population.

Also excluded from this population are:

  • dormant students (those who have suspended study but have not formally de-registered)
  • incoming visiting and exchange students
  • postdoctoral student instances
  • instances where the whole of the programme of study is outside of the UK
  • instances where the student has spent, or will spend, more than 8 weeks in the UK but the study programme is primarily outside the UK
  • DfE/Teaching Regulation Agency (formerly NCTL) Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) student instances
  • students on sabbatical, and
  • writing-up students.

Please note, the following students are included as standard in HESA populations:

  • Students registered at, but not taught by the reporting HE provider- this is usually through a collaborative/franchising agreement. It may be for the whole or a proportion of the academic year.
  • Students based in the UK on distance learning programmes.
  • Student based outside of the UK on funded distance learning programmes e.g Crown servants overseas and the Services
  • Students on industrial placement for the whole or a proportion of the academic year.
  • Students on a study year abroad for the whole or a proportion of the academic year.
  • Apprenticeship Standards students studying towards a Higher Education component.

The HESA standard registration population forms the basis for most counts of first year and continuing student instances.

If you require data based on alternative populations, this may be available as a bespoke data request by Jisc. Please be aware that any alterations to standard HESA populations will mean that data will not align with HESA data published elsewhere.

Qualifications obtained population

The HESA qualifications obtained population is a count of student instances associated with the award of a higher education qualification (excluding higher education provider credits) during the HESA reporting period. This includes qualifications awarded from dormant, writing-up and sabbatical status.

Incoming visiting and exchange students are excluded from this population.

Full-time equivalent and the HESA session population

Full-time equivalent (FTE) is a concept that considers the proportion of the full-time course that the student is studying. A student on a full-time, full year course would be returned as 1.0 FTE, whereas a student on a part-time course that is 60% of a full-time course would be returned as 0.6. This counting method therefore gives the number of full-time equivalent students rather than an actual count; for example, two students each studying a part-time course that is 50% of a full-time course would together count as only 1.0 FTE.

FTE data represents the HE provider's assessment of the full-time equivalence of the student instance during the reporting period 1 August to 31 July.

The HESA session population forms the basis for counts of full-time equivalent (FTE) student instances. It includes all registered higher education and further education student instances active at a reporting HE provider at any point in the reporting period 1 August to 31 July, following courses that lead to the award of a qualification or HE provider credit, except:

  • dormant student instances (those who have suspended study but have not formally de-registered)
  • incoming visiting and exchange student instances
  • postdoctoral student instances
  • instances where the whole of the programme of study is outside of the UK
  • instances where the student has spent, or will spend, more than 8 weeks in the UK but the study programme is primarily outside the UK
  • DfE/Teaching Regulation Agency (formerly NCTL) Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) student instances, and
  • students on sabbatical.

Incoming visiting and exchange students are excluded from the session population in order to avoid an element of double-counting with both outgoing and incoming students being included.    

For the difference between full-person equivalent (FPE) and full-time equivalent (FTE) please click here.

Count of students vs full-person equivalent (FPE) vs full-time equivalent (FTE)

Our standard figures for student data are based on a count of student instances. A student on a course is referred to as an instance. Since it is possible for a student to undertake more than one course during the reporting year, there may be more than one instance per student in a provider's data.

If a data request includes subject data, then we would provide this with a count of Full Person Equivalent (FPE) instead of the count of students. A course can cover a number of subjects so to represent this, we apportion the instance to indicate the proportion of a course that relates to each subject. Each instance is still given a value of 1 so in essence it is still a count, but when a course is split across multiple subjects, the counts within each subject indicate the FPE as detailed below.

For example:
Student A is studying a joint course with equal amounts of Mathematics and English. They are represented as 0.5 in each.
Student B is studying a joint course with equal amounts of Mathematics and Physics. They are represented as 0.5 in each.
Student C is studying Mathematics (50%) with Physics (25%) and French (25%). They are represented as 0.5 in Mathematics, and 0.25 in Physics and French.
Student D is only studying French. They are represented as 1 in French.

The total FPE by subject is:
Mathematics 1.5
English 0.5
Physics 0.75
French 1.25
Total 4

Full-time equivalent (FTE) is a concept that considers the proportion of the full-time course that the student is studying. A student on a full-time, full year course would be returned as 1.0, whereas a student on a part-time course that is 60% of a full-time course would be returned as 0.6. This counting method gives the number of full-time equivalent students rather than an actual count.

FTE and FPE data can be provided for both student and staff bespoke data requests by Jisc.

Incoming, visiting or exchange student (IVES) marker

The field Instance.EXCHANGE identifies whether the student is an exchange student. Students are considered incoming or visiting exchange students if they are coded as an incoming ERASMUS student (including Erasmus Mundus, Tempus and Comenius programmes) or other incoming exchange or visiting student.

Alternative providers and course designation

From 2012/13 to 2018/19 the term “alternative providers” was used to describe Higher Education providers that did not receive recurrent funding from Office for Students (previously the Higher Education Funding Council for England) or other public body and who were not further education colleges.

Eligible students could access loans and grants from the Student Loans Company (SLC) on specific courses, referred to as “designated courses”. The requirements for a designated course can be found in the DfE document Specific course designation: guidance for providers .

The designation status of a course could change throughout the reporting period. In analysis, designated courses are those that held designation at the end of the reporting period.

From 2019/20 HESA Student data publications and their definitions include these HE providers alongside Higher Education Institutions.

From 2019/20 differing public funding arrangements for HE providers are captured by their Registration Category.

Higher education in further education (HE in FE)

This field refers to students who are undertaking HE-level study at FE colleges in the UK.

Data for HE enrolments in further education colleges in the UK is included in several HESA outputs although this data is not collected by HESA.FE students are counted in terms of instances of engagement with the provider in the same way as HE students. As a student can have more than one instance of engagement, the total FE figure will exceed the number of students. Due to the nature of FE programmes, it is likely that the average number of instances per FE student is slightly higher than the average number of instances per HE student.

Figures for FE providers in England were obtained from The Skills Funding Agency and based on the final Individualised Learner Record (ILR) FE. Figures include all enrolments within the Education and Training provision and includes all learners whether funded by the Agency or not. Figures were supplied as a census count (snapshot date) as at 1 December in the reporting year where full-time, full year students are normally required to attend more than 450 guided learning hours.

Figures for FE providers in Wales were obtained from the Lifelong Learning Wales Record (LLWR) data collection. The count is of learners pursuing Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) funded learning activities where full-time students are those with 450 or more guided contact hours per year.

Figures for FE providers in Scotland were supplied by the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC) as a session count (actively studying anytime during the academic year). Full-time students are those normally required to attend a provider for periods equal to 480 hours or more within the year of programme of study.

Figures for FE providers in Northern Ireland were supplied by the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland (DEL(NI)) as a full-year count for the reporting year. Full-time students are those normally required to attend a provider for periods amounting to a minimum of 15 hours per week, with at least seven sessions a week.

Rounding and suppression strategy

For data protection reasons we implement a strategy in published and released tabulations designed to prevent the disclosure of personal information about any individual. This strategy involves rounding all numbers to the nearest multiple of 5 and suppressing percentages and averages based on small populations.

HESA Standard Rounding Methodology:

  1. All numbers are rounded to the nearest multiple of 5
  2. Any number lower than 2.5 is rounded to 0
  3. Halves are always rounded upwards (e.g. 2.5 is rounded to 5)
  4. Percentages based on fewer than 22.5 individuals are suppressed
  5. Averages based on 7 or fewer individuals are suppressed
  6. The above requirements apply to headcounts, FPE and FTE data
  7. Financial data is not rounded

Total figures are also subject to this rounding methodology after calculation; so the sum of numbers in each row or column may not match the total shown. Suppressed values are normally represented as '..' in published tables.

This methodology is sometimes referred to as the HESA Services Standard Rounding Methodology, HESA’s Rounding Methodology or the Heidi Plus Rounding Methodology depending on the context of the reference. These names all refer to the same methodology described here.

For more information on the rounding methodology, including worked examples and instructions on how to apply rounding, please see Rounding and suppression to anonymise statistics.

Fixed Database

HESA provides higher education providers (HEPs) with the opportunity to make post-collection amendments to a dataset through the fixed database facility. The fixed database collection opens following the closure of the corresponding live data collection, and remains open for between 6 and 15 months, depending on the data stream; typically longer for the Student record and shorter for other collections. Onward use of information whilst it remains open (for example in HESA open data) will normally be based on the original data collected and not on any amended data submitted through the fixed database facility. Onward use of information after closure of a fixed database will usually be based on the fixed data. For further information about the changes please contact us via [email protected].

Age of student

Student age is as at 31 August in the reporting period.

For the qualifications obtained population age is at 31 July in the reporting period (the end of the academic year).

Age on entry is as at the date of a student's initial commencement of studies for this student instance.

Young / mature marker

This marker distinguishes between those who are classed as young or mature students based upon their age on entry and level of study. The criteria for this marker is as follows:

  • Undergraduates are classed as young if they are under 21 years of age on entry, and mature if they are 21 or over.
  • Postgraduates are classed as young if they are under 25 years of age on entry, and mature if they are 25 or over.

Please note that the concept of young and mature is used within the UK Performance Indicators, but looks at age on a fixed date within the academic year of entry, rather than on the entry date itself. See UK Performance Indicator definitions for more details.

Campus identifiers

A separate campus identifier is required if a substantial number of students are studying on a campus at a substantial distance from where the main HE provider is based, such that the campus would be regarded as not being in the same city/town as the main provider. Greater London is treated as a single location. 

A separate campus identifier can be used when a merger takes place, to identify any merged providers as separate campuses if they fit the criteria specified above.

Campus identifiers can only be used where a student can be associated with a single site. It is recognised that because of the flexibility of study patterns adopted by some HE providers, it will be impossible to say categorically that some students are assigned to a particular campus.

Although this field is compulsory, in the majority of cases, it will default to the generic value A indicating the entire HE provider or main campus.

Class of first degree

The classification of a first degree indicates the qualification class obtained. Certain qualifications obtained at first degree level are not subject to classification of award, notably medical and general degrees. These, together with ordinary degrees and aegrotat qualifications have been included within Unclassified. Third class honours, fourth class honours and pass have been aggregated as Third/pass. Lower second and undivided second class honours have been aggregated as Lower second.

Course title

The Course title field, although compulsory, is not subject to specific checks regarding its validity. The only validation check is that the field contains at least one character. Conclusions about the provision of courses and subjects should not be drawn on the basis of the Course title field alone.

Continuation status (consistent with UNISTATS methodology)

Continuation status refers to whether students have progressed from one year of study into the next; if their progression has ceased, this field gives a reason for their lack of continuation. This field is defined by comparing linked records for students in two successive year’s data. Records are linked using a unique identifier code (composed from fields HUSID, INSTID & NUMHUS). The following five categories of continuation status are used:

  1. Continuing at HE provider – this is defined as all students who are progressing into their following year of study.
  2. Gained intended award or higher – for those students who are not progressing into their following year of study, this is defined as those students who have achieved a qualification in either of the two comparison years AND that qualification is deemed to be equivalent to or higher than the qualification aimed for in the first of the two comparison years.
  3. Gained other award – for those students who are not progressing into their following year of study, this is defined as those students who have achieved a qualification in either of the two comparison years AND that qualification is deemed to be lower than the qualification aimed for in the first of the two comparison years.
  4. Dormant – those students who have been recorded as dormant or writing-up status in the second of the comparison years and who have not obtained a qualification.
  5. Left with no award – those students who are not continuing into their following year of study, have not been awarded a qualification in either of the two comparison years and are not recorded as dormant status.
Cost centre (Student)

Cost centre is a financial concept which assigns students to specific common groupings to enable analysis between the Student, Staff and Finance streams collected by HESA. The cost centre groups are separate to the JACS coding frame used to classify subject content and are therefore non-comparable.

Cost centres exist to reflect the way resources are deployed within a HE provider as it carries out its activities: the staff teaching a course and the students on it are categorised according to the cost centre from which the expenditure to teach the course comes. Income and expenditure is allocated to these cost centres in the Finance record. HE providers can group courses into cost centres differently according to their own academic judgement on the content of their courses.

The cost centres available for use by HE providers are given below.

Cost centres from 2012/13

Cost centres 2007/08-2011/12

A mapping of old HESA cost centres to new HESA cost centres can be found here: Cost_centres_mapping.pdf

Country/Region of higher education provider

The allocation of an HE provider to a geographical region is done by reference to the administrative centre of that HE provider. There may be students registered at HE providers who are studying in regions other than that of the administrative centre of the HE provider.

Regions in this context are the nine England Regions (formerly Government Office Regions) and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. HESA allocates HE providers to Regions as follows:

North East (NEAS),
North West (NWES),
Yorkshire and The Humber (YORH),
East Midlands (EMID),
West Midlands (WMID),
East of England (EAST),
London (LOND),
South East (SEAS),
South West (SWES),
Scotland (SCOT),
Wales (WALE) and
Northern Ireland (NIRE).

Please note that in an all published student data outputs for 2013/14 onwards, students enrolled at the Open University have been split into its four country campuses in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In older years of data, students have been returned at its administrative centre which is located in the South East of England and is counted as a wholly English provider.

Date left

This is the date the student completed or left their programme of study at the higher education provider.  Sometimes there will be a delay in knowing whether or not a student has completed or left a programme of study. Where the precise date of the student's leaving is not known, the date of the end of the month, term or semester in which the student last attended is given.

Disability status (Student)

The disability categories indicate the type of disability that a student has on the basis of their own self-assessment. Students are not obliged to report a disability if they have one. HESA therefore advises that the figures reported in analyses are derived from a subset which may not be representative of the total student population.

With the introduction of the Disability Equality Duty, and on the recommendation of the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), HESA adopted a version of the coding frame introduced by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC). From 2010/11 new entrants may not be returned to HESA coded as information refused, information not sought or not known. These codes are only used for continuing students.

Entrants from 2010/11

The full label descriptions for each disability are available with the field specification.

Disability may be grouped as follows: 

  • Known to have a disability includes students who reported a disability that categorised as: a specific learning difficulty; blind or a serious visual impairment; deaf or a serious hearing impairment; a physical impairment or mobility issues; personal care support; mental health condition; social communication/Autistic spectrum disorder; a long-standing illness or health condition; two or more conditions listed plus another disability, impairment or medical condition.
  • No known disability includes students who reported they have no known disability plus students who refused to provide disability information, students for whom this information was not sought, those for whom information was not known and those for whom this information was not applicable.

Entrants prior to 2010/11

The full label descriptions for each disability are available within the field specification.

Disability may be grouped as follows:

  • Known to have a disability includes students who have a disability reported as blind or partially sighted, deaf or hearing impairment, wheelchair user or mobility difficulties, personal care support, mental health difficulties, an unseen disability (e.g. diabetes, epilepsy or asthma), multiple disabilities, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, a specific learning difficulty e.g. dyslexia, or another disability not listed.
  • No known disability includes students who indicated that they do not have a disability.
  • Not known includes students who refused to provide disability information, students for whom this information was not sought and those for whom information was not known.
Disabled student allowance

This identifies whether the student with a disability is in receipt of disabled students' allowance. Please note that not all students recorded as known to have a disability will be in receipt of disabled students' allowance.

Distance travelled

Distance travelled is calculated in a straight line (in kilometres) using the students’ home postcode and the postcode of the main campus of the higher education provider that they are attending. Each of these postcodes are linked to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) postcode directory to give the easting and northing of each home and higher education provider location according to the Ordnance Survey National Grid reference system. The differences between the northings and eastings of each are then squared and added together.  The square root of the result provides the distance travelled between the two in a straight line (according to the Pythagorean theorem).

Please note that in some cases the accuracy of the ONS grid reference is approximate to within 50 metres only (see the ONS postcode directory user guide for further details).

This methodology cannot be applied to students living in any of the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man so no distances have been calculated for these students.

The Irish National Grid, in Northern Ireland, does not work on the same references as that used in England, Wales and Scotland. Distances are therefore only calculated for Northern Irish students studying at Northern Irish higher education providers and are not calculated for students whose permanent address is in England, Wales and Scotland who go to HE providers in Northern Ireland. 

Distances are not provided for any students who were studying at the Open University, any students who were wholly franchised to other teaching providers and any students whose location of study was not at the returning provider for the whole year.

Ethnicity

Students whose permanent address is in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are required to report their ethnic origin. However, HESA advises that the figures reported in analyses may not be representative of the total student population because ethnic origin information is only required from this subset. This subset also excludes certain FE, incoming, visiting and exchange, and dormant students.

It is HESA's practice to adopt national classifications where they exist and are appropriate. The use of Census aligned ethnicity coding in the Student record is an example of this. The coding frame is recommended by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for UK-wide data collection. However, there are variations to the Census ethnicity coding adopted in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The ethnic category groupings are:

Census 2011 (used from 2012/13)

  • White includes White, White - Scottish, Irish Traveller, Gypsy or Traveller, plus Other White background.
  • Black includes Black or Black British - Caribbean, Black or Black British - African, and other Black background.
  • Asian includes Asian or Asian British - Indian, Asian or Asian British - Pakistani, Asian or Asian British - Bangladeshi, Chinese, and other Asian background.
  • Mixed includes mixed - White and Black Caribbean, mixed - White and Black African, mixed - White and Asian, other mixed background.
  • Other includes Arab and other ethnic background.
  • Unknown/Not applicable is used to denote those who do not have a permanent address in the UK, their permanent address is unknown (2014/15 onwards), have refused to give ethnic information or whose ethnicity is unknown.

Census 2001 (used prior to 2012/13)

  • White includes White and Irish Traveller.
  • Black includes Black or Black British - Caribbean, Black or Black British - African, and other Black background.
  • Asian includes Asian or Asian British - Indian, Asian or Asian British - Pakistani, Asian or Asian British - Bangladeshi, Chinese, and other Asian background.
  • Other (including mixed) includes mixed - White and Black Caribbean, mixed - White and Black African, mixed - White and Asian, other mixed background, and other ethnic background.
  • Unknown/Not applicable is used to denote those who do not have a permanent address in the UK, their permanent address is unknown (2014/15 onwards), have refused to give ethnic information or whose ethnicity is unknown.

The ethnic groupings of Black, Asian, Mixed and Other may be further grouped as ethnic minority.

Expected length of programme

The expected length of programme is an indication of the normal elapsed time from the commencement of study to the completion of the instance as a whole, even if particular student instances have different lengths of study, e.g. because of direct entry into the second year. The length includes holiday time and will normally include time for examinations.

Fee eligibility

This field is to distinguish those students who are eligible to pay home fees from those who are not, in cases where there are separate levels of fees for 'home' students and for others.

Fundability code

This indicates whether the student is counted as 'fundable', i.e. 'eligible for funding' for the course by the appropriate funding council/body. The definition therefore may vary between England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, in line with their funding methods.

Higher education provider identifiers

Each higher education provider is allocated two different unique identifiers:

Higher education provider identifier (INSTID) is the unique identifier allocated to a provider by HESA.

UK Provider Reference Number (UKPRN) is the unique identifier allocated to a provider by the UK Register of Learning Providers (UKRLP).

For a list of the HE provider mergers and changes from the 1994/95 academic year onwards see Provider mergers and changes.

Highest qualification on entry

This refers to the highest qualification which a student held at the beginning of their current instance. A student's highest qualification on entry is not necessarily that which was required for entry to the programme of study. Categories used are:

  • Postgraduate (excluding PGCE) includes all higher degrees (UK and non-UK doctorate and masters degrees and other qualifications at level D), postgraduate diplomas and certificates (excluding Postgraduate and Professional Graduate Certificates in Education (PGCE at levels M and H)) and postgraduate equivalent qualifications (other taught qualifications and taught work for provider credits at level M).
  • PGCE includes Postgraduate and Professional Graduate Certificates in Education (PGCE at levels M and H), with and without Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)/registration with a General Teaching Council (GTC).
  • First degree includes UK and non-UK first degrees, with or without honours, first degrees with honours and undergraduate qualifications with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)/registration with a General Teaching Council (GTC) and integrated undergraduate/postgraduate taught masters degree on the enhanced/extended pattern.
  • Other undergraduate qualification includes other graduate qualifications of non-UK providers, General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ)/General Scottish Vocational Qualification (GSVQ) level 4 and 5, National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)/Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) level 4 and 5, Certificates of Higher Education (CertHE), Diplomas of Higher Education (DipHE), Certificates in Education (CertEd) or Diplomas in Education (DipEd) (i.e. non-graduate initial teacher training qualification), Higher National Diplomas (HND) or Higher National Certificates (HNC) (including BTEC and SQA equivalents), foundation degrees, foundation courses at level J, graduate equivalent qualifications not elsewhere specified, other qualifications at levels H and J (i.e. other HE qualification of less than degree standard), Higher Apprenticeships level 4, other qualification at level C and undergraduate credits.
  • Other qualification includes Open University credits, other credits from a UK providers, professional qualifications, Advanced Modern Apprenticeships and other UK and non-UK qualifications (level not known).
  • Level 3 qualification (including A levels and Highers) includes any combinations of GCE A/AS levels, SQA Higher/SQA Advanced Higher, General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ)/General Scottish Vocational Qualification (GSVQ) level 3, National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)/Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) level 3, Ordinary National Certificate (ONC), Ordinary National Diploma (OND) (BTEC and SQA equivalents), A level equivalent qualifications not elsewhere specified, foundation courses at FE level, HE access courses (Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) recognised/not QAA recognised), Baccalaureates (AQA, Scottish, Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma level 3 and International Baccalaureates (IB) diplomas/certificates), Diplomas in Foundation Studies (Art and Design), 14-19 Advanced Diplomas level 3, Diplomas, Certificates and Awards at level 3, Cambridge Pre-U Diplomas and Certificates and other level 3 qualifications.
  • Qualifications at level 2 and below includes GCSE/O level qualifications/SQA O grades and Standard grades, other non-advanced qualifications, National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)/Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) level 2, 14-19 Higher Diplomas level 2 and level 1, Welsh Baccalaureate Intermediate Diplomas level 2, other qualifications at level 2, Welsh Baccalaureate Foundation Diplomas level 1 and other qualifications at level 1.
  • No formal qualification includes Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning (APEL/APL), mature students admitted on basis of previous experience and or provider's own admissions test and cases in which it is known that the student has no formal qualification. 
  • Not known is reserved for instances where nothing is known about the student's qualifications on entry to their programme of study.
Initial teacher training (ITT)

Information about ITT students is presented as a count of instances.

ITT students is based on the 'Standard registration population' and includes instances that are: initial or pre-service teacher training courses leading to Qualified Teacher Status or registration as a school teacher with the General Teaching Council for Scotland; other initial teacher training courses not leading to Qualified Teacher Status nor to registration as a school teacher with the General Teaching Council for Scotland; Department for Education [National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) till 2016/17] funded flexible provision (ITT) [not funded from 2016/17], the School Direct initiative [included but not identifiable in the ITT marker from 2016/17], school-led HEP provision, and those studying towards Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS).

ITT qualifiers includes qualifications obtained from the categories of ITT instances listed above, and as it is based on the 'Qualifications obtained population' includes qualifications awarded from dormant, writing-up and sabbatical status.

Instance

The term ‘instance’ is used to describe a student’s engagement with the an HE provider that aims toward the award of a qualification(s) or credit. Each instance is counted once in each reporting year. Because a student can have more than one engagement with a provider in a reporting year, for example by undertaking more than one course, a count of student instances may exceed the number of individual students in a provider’s data.

Unless stated otherwise, student data is based on an instance of engagement.

Last provider attended

Last provider attended is compulsory for undergraduate students entering through UCAS. HE providers are encouraged to provide this information for other full-time undergraduates in order to provide more complete statistical information for the sector.

From 2014/15 onwards the coding frame changed from using a mixture of HESA, DofE/Scottish/Welsh/NI and UCAS codes to UKPRN codes for new starters.

Optional: We would recommend analysing this data for first year, full-time UK domiciled undergraduates.

State School Marker

Where the school type is known, the previous provider and last provider attended codes can be grouped up into state and independent, as follows:

  • Privately funded school
  • From state-funded school or college
  • Unknown school type

Students from sixth-form or further education colleges are included as being from state schools.

Level of study / qualification obtained

Level of study

Within educational frameworks, the term ‘level’ is generally used to represent each of multiple bands or tiers of study or qualification that share similar expectations of attainment. Level of study is derived from the course aim of the student.

HESA classifies courses according to a framework which aligns with the framework for HE qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ), the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) (of which the framework for qualifications of HE providers in Scotland is a constituent part) and the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) and Bologna frameworks. Details of our mapping are available within the field specification for the general qualification aim of course in the Student record. It includes level M for taught masters degrees, and level H for honours degrees.

Most analyses by level utilize one of the following three standard approached to grouping levels:

  • 3-way, comprising: Postgraduate; Undergraduate; Further Education
  • 5-way, comprising: Postgraduate (research); Postgraduate (taught); First degree; Other undergraduate; Further Education
  • 9-way, comprising: Doctorate (research); Masters (research); Other postgraduate (research); Doctorate (taught); Masters (taught); Other postgraduate (taught); First degree; Other undergraduate; Further education.

Some groupings may be irrelevant in the context of a particular analysis, and will be excluded. For a standard mapping of course aim codes to our level of study fields, please download the course aim level mapping spreadsheet. Users requesting tailored datasets from Jisc can change this mapping on a bespoke basis to suit their needs.

Groupings used frequently in analysis are defined below. Technical specifications for groupings can be found in our derived field specifications.

  • Postgraduate courses are those leading to higher degrees, diplomas and certificates (including Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE at level M) (unless shown separately) and professional qualifications) which usually require a first degree as an entry qualification (i.e. already qualified at level H).
  • Postgraduate (research) includes doctorate (incorporating New Route PhD), masters degrees and postgraduate diplomas or certificates (not Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at level M) studied primarily through research.
  • Postgraduate (taught) includes doctorate, and masters degrees, postgraduate bachelors degrees at level M and postgraduate diplomas or certificates not studied primarily through research, including Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at level M (unless shown separately), Masters in Teaching and Learning, level M Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector, and professional qualifications.
  • Higher degree (research) includes doctorate (incorporating the ‘New Route PhD’) and masters degrees studied primarily through research. Many students who study for a doctoral qualification will initially be enrolled on a masters course and will transfer to a doctorate course after a year or two. For this reason, numbers of doctoral students may be under-counted and numbers of masters students may be over-counted where this factor is not taken into account.
  • Higher degree (taught) includes doctorate and masters degrees not studied primarily through research, and postgraduate bachelors degrees at level M. Masters in Teaching and Learning are included in this category.
  • Other postgraduate includes postgraduate diplomas, certificates and professional qualifications, Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE at level M), level 7 Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector, HE provider postgraduate credits and non-formal postgraduate qualifications.
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education are those PGCE qualifications which are studied or awarded at level M. The Postgraduate Diploma in Education is a similar initial teacher training qualification to the PGCE, but with a greater proportion of study at level M.
  • Professional Graduate Certificate in Education are those PGCE qualifications which are studied or awarded at level H.
  • Undergraduate courses are programmes of study at level H, I, J and C including, but not limited to, first degrees (including eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care or veterinary statutory regulatory body), first degrees with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)/registration with a General Teaching Council (GTC), postgraduate bachelors degrees at level H, integrated and enhanced first degrees (including those leading towards obtaining eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care or veterinary statutory regulatory body), first degrees obtained concurrently with a diploma and intercalated first degrees, Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE at level H), foundation degrees, diplomas in higher education (including those leading towards obtaining eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care or veterinary statutory regulatory body), Higher National Diploma (HND), Higher National Certificate (HNC), Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), foundation courses at higher education level, National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)/Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) levels 4 and 5, post-degree diplomas and certificates at undergraduate level (including those in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector), professional qualifications at undergraduate level and other undergraduate diplomas and certificates including pre- and post-registration health and social care and veterinary courses. Entrants to these programmes of study do not usually require a higher education qualification.
  • First degree includes all first degrees at level H (including those with eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care or veterinary statutory regulatory body), ordinary (non-honours) first degrees, first degrees with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)/registration with a General Teaching Council (GTC), postgraduate bachelors degree at level H, integrated and enhanced first degrees (including those leading towards obtaining eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care or veterinary statutory regulatory body), first degrees obtained concurrently with a diploma and intercalated first degrees.
  • Other undergraduate includes qualification aims equivalent to and below first degree level, including, but not limited to, Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at level H (unless shown separately), foundation degrees (unless shown separately), diplomas in higher education (including those with eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care or veterinary statutory regulatory body), Higher National Diploma (HND), Higher National Certificate (HNC), Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), foundation courses at higher education level, National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)/Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) at NQF levels 4 and 5, post-degree diplomas and certificates at undergraduate level (including those in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector), professional qualifications at undergraduate level, other undergraduate diplomas and certificates including pre- and post-registration health and social care and veterinary courses, other formal higher education qualifications of less than degree standard, provider undergraduate credit and non-formal undergraduate qualifications.
  • Foundation degrees (e.g. FdA, FdSc) were introduced to provide vocational higher education qualifications at level I.
  • Further Education programmes of study includes Diplomas, Certificates and National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)/Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) at level 3 and below, A/AS levels, Advanced Highers/Highers (Scotland), GCSEs, Intermediates (Scotland), HE Access courses, Welsh for Adults and other qualifications below higher education level.

Qualification obtained

Qualification obtained is taken from the qualification awarded to the student during the reporting year, usually at the end of an instance. The qualification awarded may be different to the student's qualification aim, and the student may be awarded more than one qualification during the reporting period.

Qualification obtained is based on the HESA qualifications obtained population and therefore also includes qualifications awarded from dormant, writing-up and sabbatical status.

The groupings are as Level of study (above), except in certain analyses where the following groupings may be used:

  • Doctorate includes doctoral degrees obtained/not obtained primarily through research and New Route PhD.
  • Other higher degree includes masters degrees obtained/not obtained primarily through research, Masters in Teaching and Learning, pre-registration masters degrees leading towards obtaining eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care or veterinary statutory regulatory body and postgraduate bachelors degrees at level M.
  • Other postgraduate qualifications includes supervised research at level D, E and L for provider credits, National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) at level M and E, other postgraduate qualifications obtained primarily through research, fellowships, diplomas and certificates at level M, Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) 5, professional taught qualifications at level M other than masters degrees, Level M Diplomas in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector, and other taught qualifications at level M.
  • HND/DipHE includes Diplomas of Higher Education (DipHE) (including those leading towards obtaining eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care or veterinary statutory regulatory body) and Higher National Diplomas (HND).

 

Location of study/Distance learning marker

This describes the location at which the student is studying.

Distance learning students are students of the reporting institution who are not in attendance for the whole of their course, with the possible exception of occasional attendance, such as examinations or summer schools. This includes both codes  6 'Distance learning - UK based student' and 9 'Distance Learning - Non-UK based student (funded)'.

In addition to distance learning students, this field also highlights those students on placements, both academic and industrial

Students studying for the whole of their programme of study (to date) outside of the UK are not included in this field and are included in the Aggregate overseas record.

However, there are a small number of distance learning students studying outside the UK who are funded - e.g. Crown servants overseas and students in the Services. For these students a full record is needed and is collected through the individualised Student record. Such students have been coded 9 'Distance Learning - Non-UK based student (funded)' in this field.

Low-participation neighbourhoods (POLAR4)

The POLAR4 classification is formed by ranking five groups from quintile 1 areas, with the lowest young participation (most disadvantaged), up to quintile 5 areas with the highest rates (most advantaged), each representing 20 percent of the UK young cohort. Students have been allocated to the neighbourhoods on the basis of their postcode. Those students whose postcode falls within middle layer super output areas with the lowest participation (quintile 1) are denoted as being from a low participation neighbourhood.

POLAR4 is based on the combined participation rates of those who entered HE between the academic years 2009-10 and 2013-14, if they entered aged 18, or between 2010-11 and 2014-15 if they entered aged 19.

There are some noteworthy changes in methodology between POLAR4 and past methods. The set of cohorts used to form the classification are more recent. The methodology for POLAR4 differs from previous releases in the choice of geographical location, and because of changes in the availability of data. 'Local areas' have been defined as middle layer super output areas (MSOAs) in England and their equivalents in the devolved nations. Finally, the methodology used to calculate population estimates for POLAR4 is different from those used in previous iterations of the classification. This change was necessitated by a change in government policy that meant that a data source previously used will not cover the required level of information in the future.

The NI Multiple Deprivation Measure and other NI geographical indicators are based on Crown Copyright and are reproduced with the permission of Land & Property Services under delegated authority from the Keeper of Public Records, © Crown copyright and database right 2020 NIMA MOU577.4

More information on the POLAR4 classification and the files used in the mapping can be found on the OfS website.

Low-participation neighbourhoods (POLAR3)

The POLAR3 classification is formed by ranking 2001 Census Area Statistics (CAS) wards by their young participation rates for the combined 2005 to 2009 cohorts. This gives five quintile groups of areas ordered from ‘1’ (those wards with the lowest participation) to ‘5’ (those wards with the highest participation), each representing 20 per cent of UK young cohort. Students have been allocated to the neighbourhoods on the basis of their postcode. Those students whose postcode falls within wards with the lowest participation (quintile 1) are denoted as being from a low participation neighbourhood.

POLAR3 is based on the HE participation rates of people who were aged 18 between 2005 and 2009 and entered a HE course in a UK higher education provider or English or Scottish further education college, aged 18 or 19, between academic years 2005-06 and 2010-11.

POLAR3 draws on data provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the Data Service, the Scottish Funding Council, UCAS and HM Revenue and Customs. The method used to get the participation rates is broadly similar to the method for POLAR2, but there are some noteworthy differences between the two methods. The set of cohorts used to form the classification are more recent. Also information about entrants to HE courses at further education colleges in Wales is not included, though we estimate that this only has a small impact on the classification.

More information on the POLAR3 classification and the files used in the mapping can be found on the OfS website.

Low-participation neighbourhoods (POLAR2)

The POLAR2 classification is formed by ranking 2001 Census Area Statistics wards by their young participation rates for the combined 2000 to 2004 cohorts. This gives five young participation quintile groups (qYPR) of areas ordered from '1' (those wards with the lowest participation) to '5' (those wards with the highest participation), each representing 20 per cent of UK young cohort. Students have been allocated to the neighbourhoods on the basis of their postcode. Those students whose postcode falls within wards with the lowest participation (quintile 1) are denoted as being from a low participation neighbourhood. 

POLAR2 is based on the HE participation rates of people who were aged 18 between 2000 and 2004 and entered a HE course in a UK higher education provider or GB further education college, aged 18 or 19, between academic years 2000/01 and 2005/06. 

This method for producing low participation neighbourhoods has been used from 2006/07 onwards and is not comparable with the old (Super Profiles) low participation data published previously.

It draws on data provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the Learning and Skills Council, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, the other UK funding bodies and HM Revenue & Customs.

Major source of funding

Major source of funding indicates the primary source of funding for a programme of study. It does not necessarily mean the main source of finance as it excludes the tuition fee element. In the majority of instances, the source of funding will be the appropriate funding council.

Standard grouping:

  • Funding bodies
  • UK central govt/local authorities
  • Research councils
  • UK industry/commerce
  • UK charities/voluntary organisations
  • EU sources
  • Other overseas sources
  • Student funded
  • Own provider
  • Joint sources
  • Other/not known
Major source of tuition fees

This indicates the major source of tuition fees for the student where this is known. This includes fees from UK government, research councils, EU sources and other sources. The predominant source is selected where there is more than one source of award or financial backing. The field relates to the current year of study.

Standard grouping:

  • No award or financial backing
  • UK LEA mandatory/discretionary award (including funding from the Student Loans Company (SLC) or Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS))
  • Provider waiver/award
  • Research Councils & British Academy
  • Charities & international agencies
  • UK central government bodies and local authorities
  • European Commission
  • Other overseas sources
  • UK industry/commerce & student's employer
  • Absent/no fees
  • Other/not known
Mode of study / qualification obtained

Mode of study 

Applicable to HESA populations except the qualifications obtained population

  • Full-time includes students recorded as studying full-time, normally required to attend a HE provider for periods amounting to at least 24 weeks within the year of study, plus those enrolled on a sandwich course (thick or thin), irrespective of whether or not they are in attendance at the HE provider or engaged in industrial training, and those on a study-related year out of their HE provider. During that time students are normally expected to undertake periods of study, tuition or work experience which amount to an average of at least 21 hours per week for a minimum of 24 weeks study/placement.

In certain analyses, full-time and sandwich modes of study may be shown separately, defined as follows:

  • Full-time includes students who are normally required to attend an provider for periods amounting to at least 24 weeks within the year of study.
  • Sandwich includes students enrolled on a sandwich course (thick or thin), irrespective of whether they are in attendance at the HE provider or engaged in industrial training. During that time students are normally expected to undertake periods of study, tuition or work experience which amount to an average of at least 21 hours per week for a minimum of 24 weeks study/placement.
  • Part-time includes students recorded as studying part-time, or studying full-time on courses lasting less than 24 weeks, on block release, or studying during the evenings only.

Where analysis includes FE level students, part-time includes those recorded as studying part-time, or studying full-time on courses lasting less than 24 weeks, on block release, or studying during the evenings only, plus those students on FE continuous delivery.

  • Writing-up and sabbatical includes students who are normally expected to submit a thesis to the HE provider for examination (generally research students), have completed the work of their course and are not making significant demands on HE providers resources, plus those on sabbatical.

Writing-up students and students on sabbatical are excluded from the HESA standard registration population.

Applicable to HESA qualifications obtained population

  • Full-time includes students whose study was recorded as full-time (as described as above), and also includes awards from suspended study and writing-up status where the student's mode of study was previously full-time.
  • Part-time students are those whose study was recorded as part-time (as described above), and also includes awards from suspended study and writing-up status where the student's mode of study was previously part-time, and awards given to those on sabbatical.
Nationality

This field defines the country of legal nationality. The field is optional for students who commenced their study before 1 August 2007 and for all students at HE providers in Northern Ireland. Please see the coding guidance notes for more detail: Nationality

Parental education

This field records whether an entrant's parents have higher education qualifications. This field is only required for undergraduate students whose permanent address is in the UK.

Permanent address / domicile

A permanent home address is the place where a student normally lived for non-educational purposes before starting their course. This is sometimes also referred to as their domicile.

Permanent home address data is supplied to HESA either in the form of postcodes (for students living permanently in the UK, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man) or as country codes.

Postcodes are mapped to counties, unitary authorities and UK nations using the Office for National Statistics Postcode Directory (ONSPD). OS data © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Contains Royal Mail data © Royal Mail copyright and database right 2020. Source: Office for National Statistics licensed under the Open Government Licence v.3.0.

Northern Ireland geographical indicators are based on Crown Copyright and are reproduced with the permission of Land & Property Services under delegated authority from the Keeper of Public Records, © Crown copyright and database right 2020 NIMA MOU577.4

Countries are mapped to geographical regions, informed by the National Statistics Country Classification grouping of countries, further details can are available on the ONS website.

When analysing permanent home address data, the following notes and definitions of groupings of locations should be borne in mind:

  • United Kingdom students are those whose normal residence prior to commencing their programme of study was in the UK, and for the purposes of analysis include Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. Officially, the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are not part of the UK or the EU. Guernsey and Jersey in this context refer to the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey, which includes their smaller islands.

    Please note that Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are excluded from the UK population used to produce the UK Performance Indicators.
     

  • Northern Ireland In 2015 the existing local government districts for Northern Ireland were replaced with a smaller number. The eleven local government districts which resulted from this reform are not directly comparable to those which previously existed.
     
  • Other European Union domiciled students are those whose normal residence prior to commencing their programme of study was in countries which were European Union (EU) members as at 1 December of the reporting period. EU countries are those which were EU members as at 1 December 2007. This includes Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. Croatia is additionally included in this category from 2013/14 onwards, having acceded to the EU on 1 July 2013.
     
  • Where European Union countries are shown separately, individual country figures exclude those domiciled in the Åland Islands, the Canary Islands, and the French overseas departments of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte and Réunion. These figures are included in European Union not otherwise specified.
     
  • Other EEA countries includes the European Economic Area countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
     
  • Other Europe includes Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus (Non-European-Union), Faroe Islands, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Vatican City and Europe not otherwise specified. Croatia was included in this category prior to 2013/14, from which point it was included as ‘Other European Union’ following accession to the EU.
     
  • Non-European-Union students are those whose normal residence prior to commencing their programme of study was outside the EU and UK. Where Non-EU countries are shown separately, individual country figures exclude the country's overseas territories. These individual country figures are listed within the geographic region in which they lie.
     
  • Not known Prior to 2014/15, the country of a student’s permanent home address could be inferred using fee eligibility as a proxy where no further information was available. From 2014/15 this proxy is no longer used, as non-UK domiciled students may be eligible to pay 'home fees'. Where no permanent home address information is known, students will now derive to 'not known'.
     
  • China – Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China), Macao (Special Administrative Region of China), and Taiwan appear separately from China in HESA domicile statistics for historical and immigration reasons relating to the issuance of different passports. The United Kingdom government acknowledges the position of the Chinese Government that Taiwan is a province of China and recognises the Chinese Government as the sole legal government of China.
Permanent address / domicile postcode

This field identifies the postcode of the student's permanent or home address prior to entry to the course. It is not necessarily the correspondence address of the student.

Permanent address postcode is only recorded for UK students. UK students, for the purposes of this field, s are students whose permanent address is in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man. Officially, the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are not part of the UK or the EU, but are included as such for analysis. Guernsey and Jersey in this context refer to the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey, which includes their smaller islands.

In the event that the full postcode is not known, HE providers must return at least the outward part. The first part of the postcode (the outward part) is essential for allowing HESA to do geographic analysis.

PHD submission date

This field records the date upon which doctoral research students first submitted a thesis; this date is not updated if students resubmit a thesis.

Proportion franchised

The proportion of a student’s programme not taught by the returning higher education provider indicates whether a student is involved in a Collaboration/Franchising arrangement. The codes in this field should be interpreted as: 

  • 0% (HE provider only) the student is taught wholly at the reporting HE provider. 
  • >0% but < 100% (Mixture) the student is taught partly at the reporting HE provider and partly at other provider(s) under some form of collaborative or franchise arrangement.
  • 100% (Collaboration/Franchised) the student is wholly taught at other provider(s) under some form of collaborative or franchise arrangement.
REF unit of assessment

This field categorizes postgraduate research (PGR) students according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) Unit of Assessment (UOA) of their supervisor (or supervisors). Where a student's supervisor was allocated to a Unit of Assessment for the most recent REF, then the student is allocated to the same UOA. 

Where the supervisor was not explicitly allocated to a UOA because:

  • the student instance started after the most recent REF, or
  • the student's supervisor is not currently employed by a REF eligible HE provider or was not employed by a REF eligible HE provider at the time of the most recent REF, or
  • the student's supervisor was not allocated to a Unit of Assessment despite being employed by the provider at the time of the most recent REF.

then the student is assigned to the Unit of Assessment which is closest in academic content to their subject of study. (The Unit of Assessment chosen should be from the list of subjects defined by the most recent REF, not any future REF.) 

Where a student was supervised by more than one member of staff and/or these supervisors are returned in more than one UOA, the student may be returned split either according to the agreed division of responsibility, or in proportion to the number of supervisors. 

Where the student is supervised as part of a formal collaborative arrangement to provide doctoral research training, the most relevant Unit of Assessment should be returned for supervisors at another provider. However, Units of Assessment are not required where supervision is provided by industrial or overseas partners, or any other organisation that is not eligible to submit to the REF.

For collections from 2013/14 to 2018/19, REF Units of Assessment were recorded with reference to the 2014 REF (UOA2014).

For the academic year 2019/20, Units of Assessment are recorded with reference both to the 2014 REF (UOA2014) and to the 2021 REF (UOA2021).

From the academic year 2020/2021, Units of Assessment will only be recorded with reference to the 2021 REF (UOA2021), although it is anticipated that this field will be updated to take subsequent REFs into consideration.

In the 2008/09 collection this was known as the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE2008).

REF 2014 units

REF 2008 units

Reason for leaving

This is used to indicate for what reason the student left the student instance in the relevant year.

Religion or belief

This field records the religious belief of the student, on the basis of their own self-assessment.

Suggested questions are those used in the 2011 census:

  • England and Wales: What is your religion?
  • Scotland: What religion, religious body, or denomination do you belong to?
  • Northern Ireland: What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?
Registration Category

HE providers regulated in England that submit data to HESA are registered with the Office for Students (OfS). There are two categories of registration for HE providers:

Approved (fee cap) – HE providers in this category are eligible for direct grant funding by UKRI through Research England and teaching grant funding by OfS. Eligible students can apply for tuition fee loan support up to the permitted maximum (over £9,000).

Approved – HE providers in this category are not eligible for UKRI or OfS grant funding. There is no cap on tuition fees, but eligible students can only receive loan support up to the “basic fee” amount (just over £6,000).

Further information relating to the OfS registration categories can be found in section III of Securing student success: Regulatory framework for higher education in England.

The OfS register contains the up to date list of registered HE providers in England and their category.

Sex / Gender

This field records the sex of the student, as opposed to the gender with which they identify.

Other is included for students whose sex aligns with terms such as intersex, androgyne, intergender, ambigender, gender fluid, polygender and gender queer.

Prior to 2012/13, the concept of biological sex was collected under the description of ‘gender’, which is a term more closely associated with identity. For this reason, HESA moved to using the term sex for this concept, and commenced collecting gender identity as a different field.

The concept of ‘Other’ in the predecessor field was collected as ‘Indeterminate’.

Indeterminate means unable to be classified as either male or female, and is intended to identify students who are intersex, and not trans-gender nor as a proxy for not known.

The specification of this field is based on the Recommendations on monitoring from AdvanceHE. HESA does not, however, include a 'prefer not to say' option.

Socio-economic classification

The socio-economic status of students participating in HE is classified according to the National Statistics Socio-economic classification (NS-SEC), a system based on occupational class. The method of determining a student’s socio-economic background depends on the age of the student at the start of their course:

  • For students aged 21 and over at the start of their course, their own socio-economic background is recorded
  • For students aged under 21 at the start of their course, the socio-economic background of their parent, step-parent or guardian who earns the most is recorded.

The NS-SEC divides occupations into eight classes. HESA’s socio-economic classification field includes a ninth code,  'Not classified', which includes the following three categories:

  • Students
  • Occupations not stated or inadequately described
  • Not classifiable for other reasons

Compulsory for undergraduate students entering through UCAS whose permanent address is in the UK.

HE providers are encouraged to provide this information for other full-time undergraduates in order to provide more complete statistical information for the sector.

Further information on the NS-SEC is available from the Office for National Statistics.

For applicants for 2008/09

For applicants through the UCAS scheme in 2008/09 only, UCAS changed the question on their application form which feeds into this field. The change is as follows:

"For applicants for 2008/09 entry only, this is based on the socio-economic background/occupation of the student if they are not in full-time education, or for students in full-time education, the socio-economic background of their parent, step-parent or guardian."

State school marker

Where the school type is known, the previous provider and last provider attended codes can be grouped up into state and independent, as follows: 

  • Privately funded school 
  • From state-funded school or college 
  • Unknown school type.

Students from sixth-form or further education colleges are included as being from state schools.

This field is intended to capture information on the pre-HE UK schools attended by students and is therefore only applicable to UK domiciled undergraduate students. The quality of the data is likely to be higher for young full-time students who apply through the UCAS system.

Subject 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and balance indicator

For courses with more than one subject the data has been ordered so subject 1 is the subject allocated the largest percentage, then subject 2 has the next largest percent and so on for subjects 3, 4 and, where it exists subject 5 has the smallest percent value. Where percentages are equal, subjects are then ordered alphabetically by HECoS term. See our definition for subject of study for more information about how subjects are returned, and the allocation of subjects to courses. Prior to 2019/20 only three subjects could be returned, and alphabetical ordering was by JACS code.

A balance indicator has been created to indicate what proportion of time on a programme of study each subject accounts for. The balance indicator derived field has the following valid entries to indicate the subject split:

0 - Indicates a Single: This includes all courses where only one subject is returned in the data
1 - Indicates a balanced combination: This includes all courses where two subjects have been returned and both percentages are 50%
2 - Indicates a major/minor combination: This covers all courses with two subjects where the percentage for subject 1 - is greater than the percentage for subject 2
3 - Indicates a Triple: this includes all courses with three subjects returned, with any combination of percentages. 
4 - Indicates that four or more subjects were returned. 

 

Subject of module

Subject of module refers to the subject(s) being studied in the current year of course or module, rather than the subject of the overall qualification aim of the course.

Subject of study

Subjects are persistent areas or branches of knowledge or learning that are studied in higher education. Subjects are essential attributes of all courses and modules. Most qualifications also have one or more subject attributes.

From 2019/20, HESA data about academic subjects is based upon the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS). HECoS was developed to replace the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS). A Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH) has been developed to provide standard groupings of subjects that provide consistent aggregations for analysis. For more information, refer to HESA's webpage on HECoS and CAH. HESA have decided not to utilise CAH v1.2 for time series analysis following investigations of the quality characteristics of CAH. More information can be found in the notes to our Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2019/20 statistical bulletin.

Please note that the CAH subject groups are used as factors within the benchmarks for the UK Performance Indicators, with CAH groups 01 medicine and dentistry and 05 veterinary sciences grouped together.

Allocation of subject codes to courses

Students may study combinations of subjects, and these are described using multiple subject codes. Up to five subjects can be associated with a course, although most have less than three.

The proportion of time allocated for each subject studied on a course is represented by a percentage. Percentages are based on a broad assessment of the relative contributions of each subject to individual students' programmes of study. The sum of the proportion allocated to each subject studied on a course must equal 100. No subject proportion less than 5% is recorded.

Most providers will apply similar percentages to the majority of their courses and only vary this where there is a substantially different expectation. The following standard percentages are recommended.

  • Balanced: 50% for each of the two subjects,
  • Major – Minor: 67% and 33%,
  • Triple: 34%, 33% and 33%.

Where broad assessment of the subject contributions markedly differs from these normative percentages alternative values can be returned.

For reasons associated with professional regulation, specific rules are in place restricting the subjects that can be allocated to various courses of initial teacher training (ITT), and courses in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary studies.

Specific allocation rules are in place for ITT. There is a group of HECoS codes that relates to teacher training, but trainee teachers may also study other subjects related to their subject specialism. In analyses, it is generally preferred to treat ITT students as being wholly based within the applied field of education, except where non-ITT subject knowledge enhancement is a central component of their studies. To reflect this general preference:

  • Where the ITT course being followed is a PGCE, the percentages of HECoS codes that relate to teacher training are scaled-up so that together, they sum to 100% of a full person equivalent (FPE). Any HECoS codes for non-teacher training subject specialisms have been returned are ignored.
  • Where an ITT course is not a PGCE, the FPE is allocated equally between two groups: first the group of HECoS codes that relates to teacher training, and second to any other non-teacher training HECoS codes for subject specialisms that have been returned. The proportions that have been returned for these two groups are scaled so that each group equals 50% FPE. Where no non-teacher training HECoS codes for subject specialisms have been returned, 100% FPE will be comprised of HECoS codes relating to teacher training.

In cases where an ITT course has not had any HECoS codes relating to teacher training returned for it, we replace the appropriate proportion of FPE with the default administrative teacher training HECoS code 200001.

Further detail about the allocation of subjects can be found in the HECoS implementation guide. The logic behind the derivation of FPE values for subjects of study can be found in the relevant derived field specification.

Specification of HECoS

The HECoS vocabulary is (at the current version 9) a single flat (non-hierarchical) list of 1,092 subject terms that ensures the categorisation of courses and modules is always performed at a consistent level.

Unlike JACS, the subject code identifiers are randomly generated and have no inherent meaning in themselves. Every HECoS code is associated with a subject term, a definition of that term, and where relevant, a scope note explaining the applicability of the code.

The HECoS vocabulary is available as downloadable Open data, along with further guidance on the management and implementation of HECoS, from our dedicated HECoS support page.

Common Aggregation Hierarchy

A Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH) has been developed to provide standard groupings of related HECoS subject terms. The CAH is a comprehensive aggregation of the entirety of HECoS at each of three hierarchical levels or tiers, where a “parent” group at a higher level of CAH always comprises the full set of HECoS codes represented by related “child” groups of CAH below it. Version 1.2 of the CAH has been used to produce the 2019/20 Student outputs. In this version of the CAH, level 1 comprises 23 groups; level 2 comprises 35 groups, and; level 3 comprises 167 groups.

HECoS does not map directly to JACS. These are two distinct coding frames, with HECoS having been developed in part to allow for more robust coding to address inconsistencies in coding using the JACS framework. However, the CAH can be applied to both HECoS and JACS subjects - CAH has been designed to act as a bridge between HECoS and JACS. Given the differences between HECoS and JACS, time series analysis of data covering the change in coding frames, using the Common Aggregation Hierarchy, will provide indicative comparisons only.

The CAH is available as a downloadable file comprising the hierarchy of codes, and mappings to both HECoS and JACS, from our dedicated CAH support page.

JACS

The Joint Academic Coding System (JACS) is a hierarchical coding frame, formerly used by HESA and UCAS to classify subjects of study, prior to the development of HECoS. JACS version 1.7 was introduced in 2002/03 (replacing our former system of HESA subject codes). JACS has been revised twice, with JACS 2.0 coming into effect in 2007/08 and JACS 3.0 in 2012/13. In 2019/20 JACS was replaced by HECoS for all collected data.

Further documentation about JACS, including downloadable files containing the coding frame, an explanation of former aggregation approaches, mapping documents, and apportionment rules for specific courses, can be found in our dedicated JACS support pages.

Tariff

The tariff system assigns a numerical value to a student’s pre-HE qualifications, with each qualification awarded a set number of tariff points. The tariff field contains the combined tariff score for the entry qualifications associated with a student instance.

HESA’s calculation of tariff is broadly based on the system published by UCAS, but may differ in some points of detail. The methodology of collecting and calculating tariff points has changed a number of times in recent years; caution is therefore advised when comparing tariff points over this period. Further information is available on the methodology used from 2017/18 (XTPOINTS) and up to and including 2016/17 (XTARIFF).

This field is compulsory for undergraduate students entering through UCAS.

HE providers are encouraged to provide the information for other full-time undergraduates in order to provide more complete statistical information for the sector.

When providing tariff in bespoke data requests, as standard tariff is restricted to 'tariffable' highest qualifications on entry (listed below). This restriction can be removed at the request of the customer.

QUALENT3:
P41: Diploma at level 3
P42: Certificate at level 3
P46: Award at level 3
P47: AQA Baccalaureate (Bacc)
P50: A/AS level
P51: 14-19 Advanced Diploma (level 3)
P53: Scottish Baccalaureate
P54: Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers
P62: International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma
P63: International Baccalaaureate (IB) Certificate
P64: Cambridge Pre-U Diploma
P65: Cambridge Pre-U Certificate
P68: Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma (level 3)
P80: Other qualification at level 3
P91: Level 3 qualification of which some or all are subject to UCAS Tariff
P93: Level 3 qualifications of which all are subject to UCAS Tariff
P94: Level 3 qualifications of which some are subject to UCAS Tariff
X00: Higher education (HE) access course, Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) recognised (from 2017/18)
X01: Higher education (HE) access course, not Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) recognised (from 2017/18)
 
QUALENT2:
39: 'A' level equivalent qualification not elsewhere specified
40: Any combinations of GCE 'A'/SQA 'Higher'/SQA 'Advanced Higher' & GNVQ/GSVQ or NVQ/SVQ at level 3
41: ONC or OND (including BTEC & SQA equivalents)
47: Baccalaureate

Average (mean) tariff is the sum of all tariff scores divided by the number of students. Those with zero or unknown tariff are excluded. Please note, averages based on a population of 7 or less students will be suppressed.

Teaching provider

This field identifies collaborating providers with a UK Provider Reference Number (UKPRN) from the UK Register of Learning Providers, or a generic code.

This field may be returned twice if required, with the first occurrence identifying the provider with the highest total FTE across all modules. A second occurrence, where given, indicates the second highest total FTE across all modules.

In cases where there are more than two other providers providing teaching, the two with the most input are returned.

Generic codes:

  • 4001 Other UK provider
  • 4002 Other Non-UK provider
  • 4003 Other public body in the UK
  • 4004 Other private body in the UK

Code 4001 is used only exceptionally for a UK HEP or FEC that has not been included under the valid entries, but which would be expected to be included in such a list in future years. 

Code 4002 is used for any provider (educational or other) based outside the UK. 
If the provider is providing teaching at the workplace then no entry is required in this field. Where the provider is buying in teaching from another body, which could be the student's employer, these cases will be identified by the codes 4003 and 4004.

Term-time accommodation

Term-time accommodation identifies where the student is living during the academic year. The categories of accommodation used in this field are as follows:

  • Provider maintained property (includes housing owned by the provider and sub-let to student)
  • Private-sector halls
  • Parental/guardian home
  • Own residence (includes a students permanent residence, which may be owned or rented by them)
  • Other rented accommodation (refers to a more temporary arrangement, such as yearly house share etc.)
  • Other (is used when none of the above are applicable)
  • Not in attendance at the provider (used for full-time and sandwich students not currently in attendance at the provider for reasons such as industrial placement or language year abroad)
  • Not known

This field is compulsory only for full-time and sandwich students.

Term-time postcode

This field records a postcode for the student's term-time address at some point during the reporting year.

This can be a postcode from any point during term-time, but should not be a correspondence or summer contact address. It is expected that in many cases the postcode will change between years. Where students spend all or part of the year in a hall of residence the provider is able to insert a generic postcode for that hall into all of the relevant records.

This field is required for all students except those studying by distance learning, those on placements, and those at HE providers in Wales on courses of less than HE level.

Although completion of the field is compulsory for all students listed above, 'Unknown' values will be acceptable. It is possible to provide only the outward part of the postcode if this is all that is known, although that is not expected to arise commonly.

This field is only applicable from 2007/08 onwards.

Top 4 A levels/ Advanced highers

This data provides the four highest grades from any of the following qualifications held:

GCE A Level,
GCE A Level (double),
Reformed A Level (England, Northern Ireland and Wales),
A Level Double Award (Reformed),
SQA Advanced Highers,
VCE Advanced and
VCE Advanced Double Award 
(QUALTYPEs A, DA, RE, RN, RW, D1, AH, V and V2).

The grades are ordered from highest to lowest. If a student has multiple qualifications within the same subject area, the qualification with the best grade (the one corresponding to the highest number of tariff points) is taken. If a student has less than four qualifications, the field has been padded to length 4 with X's. For example, XXXX denotes a student who doesn't have a valid grade in any of the applicable qualifications.

Note: From 2010/11, A* are valid A level grades and are shown as * in this data. For example, *AAX denotes a student holds three of the qualifications with grades A*, A, A.

Unique identifier

This field provides an anonymous identifying number for each instance in the record for detailed analysis.

Year of course

This field indicates the year number of the course that the student is currently studying. This could be different from the year of the student on this instance of engagement if the student has changed course or re-taken a year.

Year of student on this instance

This field is used to indicate the year number that the student is in since enrolling for a course/programme leading to the student's qualification aim (whether or not the intended subject or class has changed). This could be different from the year of course if the student has changed course or retaken a year.

Year of study/ first year marker

First years includes those students who commenced their programme instance within the reporting period and is based on the HESA standard registration population. In some cases the student's first year of study may be the second or subsequent year of a programme.

All years includes all student instances regardless of their commencement date and is based on the HESA standard registration population.