HESA data guidance

HESA Data Guidance

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) is the official agency for the collection, analysis and dissemination of quantitative information about higher education (HE) in the UK.

HESA collects data on our behalf relating to:

  • student activity
  • finance
  • higher education business and community interaction
  • staff at higher education institutions (HEIs)

We use this data in HEFCW for:

  • the calculation of funding allocations
  • monitoring against reaching higher targets and equal opportunities
  • publication
  • informing policy

Code of practice for higher education data collections

Data submitted by higher education providers to HESA and to the UK higher education (HE) funding bodies plays an essential role in understanding and supporting HE in the UK. The data is presented to potential students to make choices about their studies, and to government to develop and review policies. HE providers need data to benchmark their operations, and to improve their efficiency and effectiveness, while the funding bodies use it to allocate public money. Data is also required for regulatory purposes, and in some cases is collected as a statutory requirement.

To be fit for these purposes, the data submitted by higher education providers needs to meet certain standards. Many of these standards are set out in the explicit rules and checks that apply to data collections, and in the principles of data protection. But in addition to this, the data must be prepared with honesty, impartiality and rigour. While these principles have always been implicit, we have brought them together in this Code of Practice for ease of reference, and to support those preparing and managing data collections. The Code applies to all data collections submitted to HESA and the four UK HE funding bodies, whether individualised or aggregate, numeric or text-based, and also applies to discussions concerning the data.

Code of practice for higher education data collections

Protocol for reporting practice – Welsh higher education institutions merging with Welsh further education institutions

We have issued a protocol which outlines the expected reporting practice for merged institutions from 2013/14 data collection onwards. Welsh higher education (HE) institutions should follow the protocol for all returns they make to HESA. Welsh Government data collection requirements for the further education (FE) institution subsidiary of the merged institution are also outlined for information.

In summary, student data relating to all students belonging to the pre-merger HE institution, and HE students belonging to the pre-merger FE institution will be returned to HESA only. FE student data relating to the pre-merger FE institution will be returned to the Welsh Government on the lifelong learning Wales record only. All other data relating to the merged institution will be returned to HESA only. Improvements to record guidance will be made where necessary to accommodate the protocol.

Protocol for reporting practice – Welsh HE institutions merging with Welsh FE institutions

Higher Education Data Requirements

The HE data requirements circular informs institutions of the higher education data that we use for the above purposes. It outlines the fields and criteria we use for extracting HESA data and in what context it is to be used.

HE data requirements 2020/21 circular

HE Data Requirements Circular Archive