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HECoS archive

The archive comprises background information on the development of the HECoS vocabulary.

HECoS was the main output of the Higher Education Data and Information Improvement Programme (HEDIIP) New Subject Coding System Project (NSCS) which ran between 2014 and 2015.

On this page: Development aims | Archived documents

Development aims

​​The objectives of the NCSC project were:

  • To define the HE sector requirements for a new subject coding system to replace JACS.
  • To develop a standard coding structure that meets the HE sector requirements.
  • To prepare an adoption plan and gain the agreement of the project's key stakeholders.
  • With reference to Project 2.3 (Data language), define a governance model for the on-going maintenance and development of the New Subject Coding System.
  • To develop and execute a communication plan that: raises awareness of the new system and its benefits; enables appropriate stakeholders to participate in the project; and enables stakeholders to prepare their organisations for implementation.
  • To recommend a standard approach to subject based analysis using the new subject coding system.

The desired project outcome was for a coding system that meets the design principles described below:​


  • a coding framework that corresponds to recognised good practice;
  • a framework with scope for evolution;
  • a framework at an appropriate level of granularity (in relation to usability and meaningful data);
  • an easy transition path;
  • increased consistency of application across institutions;
  • a means of furthering the open data agenda;
  • a unified approach to supporting a much wider group of stakeholders;


  • a means of linking to data classified in other frameworks;
  • backwards compatibility with legacy data.

Archived documents

An extensive archive of the HEDIIP programme is maintained at HESA. Selected NSCS project documents are reproduced here in unredacted form (including some notes that were absent from the versions previously available on the former HEDIIP website). Taken together, these documents offer an overview of the way the project objectives were defined, how the project was conducted, the considerations that were taken into account, and the outcomes and outputs of the work.