HESES Returns

HESES Returns

What is the HESES return, and why is it required?

The Higher Education Students Early Statistics Survey, better known as the HESES return, is a student numbers return which is made to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The return requires total student numbers and full-time equivalents () (FTE) to be identified within the following categories:

  • Level: Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Postgraduate Research
  • Price Group: A Clinical Subjects, B Laboratory based, Engineering and Technology, C
  • Intermediate cost subjects with studio, laboratory or fieldwork element, D Other subjects.

  • Mode: Full-time, Sandwich and Part-time
  • Fundability: HEFCE fundable, non-fundable, Islands/Overseas
  • The HESES return is a statutory return that is made by all Higher Education (HE) institutions to HEFCE. The return confirms, or otherwise, that the institution has achieved the student numbers that it is contracted to achieve within a given academic year. The information contained in the return (in addition to successful additional numbers bids) is also used in determining the HE institutions contracted student numbers for the forthcoming academic year.

    What are the census and submission dates for the HESES return?

    The census date for the HESES return is the 1st December in any given academic year. It captures information on students who are actively studying at that date, plus forecast registrations relating to students likely to commence study between the 1st December and the 31st July.

    The submission date for the HESES return is normally 7 days following the census date.

    What are the implications of student numbers in the HESES return not agreeing with those that an institution is contracted to achieve?

    If an institution under-achieves their student numbers there is likely to be “claw-back”, where money allocated for funding is claimed back from the Institution by the Funding Council. If contracted student numbers are exceeded, the Funding Council may request that an action plan is drawn up, which will outline the institution's plans to bring student numbers back in line with those that the institution has been contracted to achieve. Recruitment of additional students may not necessarily result in additional funding from the Funding Council.

    How do/can HEFCE ensure that the information contained in the HESES return is correct?

    There is a rolling programme of audits carried out by HEFCE, where HESES returns are checked and tracked back to individual students, attending specific programmes of study. The frequency of these audits is determined by a number of factors. One important factor is the consistency with which the student data, returned to the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA), agrees with the student numbers/ FTE recorded in the HESES return. If, for example, the number of students in the HESA return is much lower than those returned in the HESES return, it is likely that an audit will follow.