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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, equal opportunities and initial teacher training (ITT) provision
  • publication
  • informing policy
Code of practice for higher education data collections

Data submitted by higher education providers to the Higher Education Statistics Agency and to the UK higher education (HE) funding bodies plays an essential role in understanding and supporting HE in the United Kingdom. The data is used by potential students to make choices about their studies, and by 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 are bringing 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 higher education funding bodies, whether individualised or aggregate, numeric or text-based, and also applies to discussions concerning the data.

The code of practice is attached below and can also be found on the HESA website.

Code of practice for higher education data collections

Protocol for reporting practice – Welsh HEIs merging with Welsh FEIs

In light of recent and upcoming mergers of higher education institutions (HEIs) with further education institutions (FEIs) in Wales, we have issued a protocol which outlines the expected reporting practice for merged institutions from 2013/14 data collection onwards. Welsh HEIs should follow the protocol for all returns they make to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Welsh Government data collection requirements for the FEI subsidiary of the merged institution are also outlined for information.

In summary, student data relating to all students belonging to the pre-merger HEI and higher education students belonging to the pre-merger FEI will be returned to HESA only. Further education student data relating to the pre-merger FEI will be returned to WG on the LLWR 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 HEIs merging with Welsh FEIs

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 2017/18 circular

Further information and guidance

Specific guidance on the completion of data returns to HESA is available on their website.

Further guidance relating to HESA data

Higher Education Business and Community Interaction (HEBCI) survey guidance

Guidance for returning data to the HEBCI survey can be found on the HESA website.

HEBCIS guidance

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