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Provider Preview service


Provider Preview is a service we deliver to inform HE providers about third-party requests received by HESA for tailored data sets to be used for high-profile and significant purposes. This is used primarily for league tables, press enquiries and the calculation of provider subscriptions, along with a few other examples of high-profile uses. The service provides advance notice of each such request along with a copy of the data requested for each HE provider. This is normally made available two weeks prior to the data being made available to the third-party requester.

This service is intended to provide advance notice of high-profile requests, including information about the intended use, and to permit each HE provider to view the data we propose to release. It represents an opportunity to understand the range of uses and for the HE provider to supply any supporting or contextual information that is pertinent to the intended onward uses. HESA will forward any such contextual information alongside the data to promote appropriate and well-informed usage.

HE providers are NOT required to numerically check the proposed data, as it will already have passed through an extensive quality assurance process. However, in some cases HE providers may optionally wish to replicate elements of the data to ensure they fully understand any preparation methodologies.


  • Data is extracted and checked by our analysts based on specifications agreed with the third-party requester.
  • Once data has successfully passed through our quality assurance processes, it is made available via the Provider Preview service. The tool we use to deliver this preview is called the Data Dissemination System (DDS).
  • An email is despatched to a pre-nominated contact group of staff of HE Providers (referred to as the ‘DDS announce contacts’) detailing the specification, third-party requester, intended use and preview period (usually 2 weeks).
  • The email contains a link to a download page where DDS announce contacts can download and view their data along with the specification, accompanying definitions, and any pre-agreed notes/caveats.
  • Where possible and appropriate, we will also supply sector mean/median/quartiles of any calculated figures (averages/ratios etc) to provide an indication of how each provider relates to other sector providers.
  • Data is available for download on the system for approximately 4 weeks covering a period before and after onward supply to the third party. HE providers are advised to save a local copy during that time if they wish to keep a record of data supplied.
  • Any HE provider wishing to raise a query about the data or to provide additional contextual information should contact HESA via the contact details expressed within the notification email quoting the 5 digit enquiry reference number which is listed in the original email notification to DDS Announce contacts.

In delivering this service HESA will endeavour to:

  • Answer questions HE providers may have on intended usage of the data
  • Assist HE providers in understanding the specification and definitions of the data
  • Facilitate direct discussions between the HE provider and third party requester if both parties agree to such contact

HESA is not able to:

  • Provide supplementary datasets to help HE providers replicate the data (list of student or staff identifier codes in a data item)
  • Suppress specific students/staff from a dataset based on identifier codes
  • Change the coding of students/staff in a data set to be supplied to a third party.

Occasionally, review of data via the Provider Preview service will identify a data quality issue in the original data submitted to HESA that has not previously been trapped by the data collection quality assurance procedures. In such cases original data may be suppressed and corrected data may be supplied by the HE provider along with an explanation of the error in the original submission. HESA will provide such corrected data to the third party requester but cannot guarantee that corrected data will be used.

General information

If you would like a staff member added or removed from the DDS announce contact list, please email [email protected] with their name, role and contact details and we will update the list.

The DDS Announce mailing list will only be used to administer the Provider Preview service. This list is held confidentially by HESA and only shared with Jisc, who perform this service on HESA's behalf.