HESA Returns

HESA Returns

What/Who is HESA?

HESA is the Higher Education Statistical Agency. This agency was set up in 1993 following a government white paper calling for more coherence in Higher Education Statistics. HESA acts as a central agency for collection and dissemination of data relating to Higher Education institutions. For more information concerning HESA, their role and publications please refer to their website http://www.hesa.ac.uk.

What returns are made to HESA?

HESA have a number of returns, which are required in each academic year, the categories of returns are as follows:

  1. Student:
    1. Student Return (at modular level)
    2. Destination of Leavers in Higher Education (DLHE)
  2. Staff
  3. Finance

Every HE institution has a statutory obligation to submit data in the above categories to HESA.

Although the above are 3 separate categories of returns, they do not stand in isolation in subsequent analysis carried out by HESA.

What are the census and submission dates for the HESA returns?

Please see http://www.hesa.ac.uk

Which HESA return(s) is the Data Management Unit responsible for?

The Data Management Unit has sole responsibility for the HESA Student Return. The Data Management Unit also assists the Finance Department, the Personnel Department and Careers with submission of their respective returns. However, overall responsibility for the data held within these returns lies with the respective departments.

What happens to the information held in the Student Returns made to HESA?

The information held on the student return is used in a variety of ways. Firstly, along with the Finance, Staff and Destination of Leavers in HE data, annual publications are compiled by HESA (see their website http://www.hesa.ac.uk). More recently the HESA data is being used by a variety of organisations, both public and private. Two prominent examples are firstly, for the public sector;, the compilation of Performance Indicators by the Higher Education Funding Council, and the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), both of which are based on HESA data. Secondly, in the private sector, the compilation and publication of league tables produced in both the Times and the Guardian newspapers. Most importantly to individual institutions, however, is the use of the HESA data as the basis of formulae-driven funding allocations, with respect to access and widening participation, and funding for students with disabilities. This, along with the checks carried out to ensure that the HESA data supports the HESES return (see FAQS HESES), emphasises the importance of the integrity of the data held within the Student Returns that are submitted to HESA.

How does the University ensure the integrity of the student data that is submitted to HESA?

HESA provide software known as “validation kits” which can be downloaded from their website. It is possible to compile the HESA data and then run it through the validation kit to pick up any inconsistencies in coding. The cleaning of data in this manner is an on-going process, which continues throughout the year. The Data Management Unit has overall responsibility for this work and liaises closely with Registry staff to ensure that the data standards are continually improved. HESA state that the data ‘belongs’ to the institution and it is our responsibility to ensure its quality. As the data eventually enters the public domain, this is paramount.

What does the University do with the data that they have compiled for submission in the Student Return made to HESA?

The data returned to HESA starts out as a file consisting of codes in hundreds of fields. This data is subsequently analysed and re-presented for internal analysis in the form of an Institution Profile document, which can be accessed via the staff web page under the Management Information web link.