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HESA Subscription - how we calculate our statutory fee

For FAQs regarding your January 2020 invoice or the email supporting it, please visit our FAQs page. HESA Subscription and HERA provides a full explanation of how our approach relates to HERA.

In the allocation of costs and their apportionment to individual providers, HESA has to abide by guidelines linked to its role as designated data body.

The two main principles are:

1. In allocating costs to any given service or activity, a proportion of HESA overheads and indirect costs are allocated to that service or activity. We are unable to cost an activity as a marginal activity, meaning that every line of business is fully cost-reflective.

2. HERA requires the distribution of costs between England and the rest of the UK to reflect the differences in services provided. England cannot subsidise other nations and other nations cannot subsidise England. This contributes to the subscription fees being different in each country.

The following diagram and detail below explain how HESA applies these principles and how the costs are reflected within your subscription.

Cost apportionment - national differences

Cost apportionment - national differences

As with all businesses, HESA’s total costs are split between the direct costs of delivering the activities we provide and the overheads of supporting them and running a charitable organisation. An example of a ‘direct cost’ is the cost of hosting and the software development of the Minerva system, with the support of our Legal team being an ‘overhead’.

This total cost of running HESA is split between our core activities: collection, dissemination and training and a contribution towards the costs of the Data Futures programme.  

To apportion the cost of these activities to the nations for which the costs are incurred, the cost of these activities is allocated to collections, as mandatory collection requirements differ across the UK.

The national requirements for collections are then used to apportion the costs to the nations. To do this, an appropriate cost driver is used for each collection. For example, the number of students for the student collection or number of staff for the staff record.

Once the total cost for a nation is identified, where appropriate these costs are split between statutory and non-statutory collections.

By doing this, it is possible for a total cost, including an appropriate proportion of overheads, as required by HERA, to be attributed to each nation.

Cost apportionment - fair and transparent

Developing a fair and reasonable way to distribute the total national cost across the population of providers is the final step. 

The subscription is allocated across two different components, a per-provider fee and a per-student fee. This method allocates fees fairly between nations and between providers. 

The per-provider fee reflects the fact that a significant amount of the costs incurred by HESA are fixed and driven by provider numbers rather than student numbers. 

The per-provider fee remains fixed for the subscription year, in both subscription periods.

The per student fee ensures that smaller providers are not disadvantaged as larger providers pay a greater proportion of the costs.

The per-student fee can vary between subscription periods. By varying the per-student fee between subscription periods HESA can recuperate additional costs or share savings during the year, as per the requirement in the HERA.

Total statutory subscription

Why are the fees higher in England?

Additional HE providers have a greater effect on HESA’s costs than additional students. HESA must ensure that costs are apportioned fairly between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. England has a large number of HE providers including many small and specialist providers so the costs per provider are higher after apportionment between the nations.

To ensure that smaller providers in England are not unduly penalised by a very high per-provider fee, the per-student fee is increased to ensure fairness and proportionality within England.

HESA Subscription - how your total fee is made up and charged

Statutory services and non-statutory / optional services

Separate subscription models apply to statutory and non-statutory/optional activities. The subscription rates for statutory activities cover only the costs of providing statutory services. Non-statutory activities are subject to VAT, but statutory activities are not.
See HESA Subscription Model for details.

Graduate Outcomes

Graduate Outcomes is deemed to be a statutory activity in the above model. It has been separately identified in invoicing to allow continuing visibility of the costs which have previously been invoiced separately. See Graduate Outcomes Subscription.

Heidi Plus

Heidi Plus will continue to be charged on an August to July model, as is explained on the Heidi Plus Subscription pages. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this separate invoice is considered part of your Statutory Subscription.

Total subscription = statutory + optional

Invoice frequency

Our subscription year runs from 1 February to 31 January. This will be made up of two subscription periods, each covering six months. Subscription fees will be invoiced twice a year to cover these subscription periods and allows for any potential adjustments during the year.

Graduate Outcomes will also be invoiced twice a year on the same February to January schedule. 

This means that figures quoted on invoices and the notice of an invoice are for six months of HESA costs. The figures quoted on our website are for the full year.

Total subscription – how this is shown

The total subscription will include the statutory fee plus any optional services. Services that are included in the statutory fee vary between nations - see Subscription model information for detail. 

Emails providing the breakdown of a subscription have been provided to Accountable Officers and finance teams, with invoices being issued directly to finance contacts. The table below shows the fee elements described in that email, and the descriptions used in your invoice. 

Email content

Description on invoice

Statutory Subscriber Type (Fixed Fee)

Flat Rate Band Charge

Per Student Fee

Core Subscription Student Charge

Graduate Outcomes (Fixed Fee)

Graduate Outcomes Flat Fee

Graduate Outcomes (Per Student Fee)

Graduate Outcomes Graduate Charge

Aggregate Offshore Record

Aggregate Offshore Student Charge
Estates Management Record
(Optional Service in England and Northern Ireland)
Optional Services EMR
Staff outside the Coverage of the Staff Record
(Optional Service in England and Northern Ireland)
Optional Services Staff

Extract from an example email

specimen subscription email

Example invoice

For the per student and per graduate fees the number of students and graduates are shown as the ‘Qty’ with 'Price' indicating the fee per student or graduate.

specimen subscription invoice