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Technical definitions

Aside from our main definitions pages we have also created this technical definitions page which holds information on some of the more complex fields and common calculations undertaken using the HESA data. If you cannot find the definition you are looking for, then please do not hesitate to contact the Information Services team

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. As the fixed database collection remains open well beyond publication dates, onward use of information whilst it remains open (for example in HESA publications) will normally be based on the original data collected and not on any amended data submitted through the fixed database facility. For further information about the changes please contact us via [email protected]

Student:Staff Ratios (SSR)

The student/staff ratio (SSR) is designed to show the total number of students per member of academic teaching staff. The SSR is calculated using the student and staff full time equivalent (FTE) figures.

Student component (numerator)

The student figures are based on the HESA Session population, and include students counted as 1 (HE session population) and 2 (FE session population). For the student figures we combine two totals to give the full student FTE:

1. FTE of students who:

  • do not have a location of study of D "On industrial (or other) placement for the year as a whole",
  • are not under any franchise arrangements,
  • do not have a mobility marker* of "student is abroad for the whole year and is not studying for any portion of the year".

FTE of students who:

  • do have a location of study of D "On industrial (or other) placement for the year as a whole",
  • are under franchise arrangements,
  • do have a mobility marker* of "student is abroad for the whole year and is not studying for any portion of the year".

*Mobility marker:

Identification of whether students who are abroad for the whole year are not undertaking study used the mobility type fields to ensure none of their mobility types relate to study.

The marker is derived from the location of study and the 3 mobility type fields. If the location of study is T "Abroad for the whole year" and none of the mobility types 1-3 are Study, then the student is included in the mobility marker as "Student is abroad for the whole year and is not studying for any portion of the year".

SSRs with/without cost centre

Where cost centre data is included in the analysis, the modular student FTE is used. Where cost centre is not included in the analysis the ‘Stuload' FTE is used. Since these two measures of FTE are not exactly the same, there may be small differences between institution total SSRs dependent on whether cost centre is included in the analysis. For further details about how the student FTE figures are derived, please see the notes on our website.

Staff component (denominator)

The staff figures are based on the HESA Staff contract session population, and include staff members counted as 1 (contract counted within session population).

For the staff, we pull out the FTE of academic staff whose academic employment function is either 1 Teaching only or 3 Teaching and research.

Calculation of SSR 

Once the 4 constituent parts have been generated, the SSR is calculated by summing together the student components and dividing them by the summed staff components As standard, atypical (part b) staff are included in HESA SSR calculations but may be omitted if required

Suppression

To avoid SSRs being calculated on low numbers, data is suppressed if the student component of less than or equal to 7 FTE or if the staff component is less than or equal 2 FTE.

SQL code to aid re-creation of SSRs:

Fields used are from HESA records plus standard derived versions. The additional field f_zpropfran has been produced ‘in house' and is defined as follows:

The field ZPROPFRAN gives the proportion not taught by the returning institution for each instance. The value ranges between 0 and 1. A value of 0 means that the student is entirely taught by the reporting institution (no franchising), a value of 1 means that the student is entirely taught at another institution. If a student doesn't have a record in the module table or has all modules with 0 FTE, it is assumed that the student is entirely taught by the reporting institution, so ZPROPFRAN is set to 0.

This derived field is produced using PCOLAB (proportion not taught at the returning institution) from the MODULE table.

SR_SQL.txt script- now updated to account for students who are abroad for the whole year and not studying for any portion of the year