HESA Data Futures

HESA Data Futures


The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) is the official agency for the collection, analysis and dissemination of quantitative information about HE in the UK. Legally, we must send an annual return of data to Higher Education funding bodies i.e. SFC. HESA collates this information on their behalf.

The HESA Data Futures project allows for the collection system will be always open, thus allowing the continuous submission and quality assurance of data.  The benefit of this is timely, high quality data which will improve management information for universities and the sector as a whole, more efficient data return and quality assurance for universities, and better alignment of regulatory and statutory data returns for the sector.

What Data Do We Provide?

At the end of each academic year, we collate information from the 1st August to 31st July, which includes:

  •       Personalised data about students
  •       Data about the curriculum
Data is held and collected in the Student Record System (SRS). The data is collected via Gateway systems (Admissions, Online Education Management System (OEMS)) during admission, at registration and throughout the student’s academic year.

The HESA Data Futures data model is a series of interconnected data elements.  Organisation reference data is linked to Course (degree programmes), modules (course modules), venues and entry qualifications. There is also a linkage to financial support schemes, and this is, in turn, connected to individual students.  Course (degree programmes) and modules (course modules) both link to information about their delivery. Student data is linked to their entry qualifications and their engagement (commitment to an educational aim and its realisation over time), which is linked to their annual registration and the details of their course (programme) for each session. When a student leaves (either through suspending studies or completing their qualification), this is linked to their registration and qualification.

Further information on the HESA Data Futures data model and the component data elements can be found on the HESA Data Futures micro site.

When Does Data Futures Begin?

The University will be collecting student data in the new Data Futures format from 1st August 2022. The collection system will be always open, allowing the continuous submission and quality assurance of data. Review and sign-off periods are built into the cycle and data will be available shortly after at pre-determined dissemination points. 

These changes require modifications to many systems at the University, as a number of  data items need to be captured, as well as requiring a change to the current HESA data processing system, which compiles the data so it can be submitted.

HESA are still working through the details of the quality and validation rules, so the full scope of work is yet to be defined. To date, internal analysis indicates that:

  •        New data items need to be captured
  •        Changes to data process are required
  •        Other Changes

How does this affect me?

Each of the new data items requires a change to the SRS. As a result, other projects/system changes may be stalled whilst HESA updates are being made . 

There will also be changes required to Gateway systems (such as Student Hub and Online Education Management System) and interfaces. This may limit new functionality being implemented in these systems. 

Due to the underpinning technologies, it is not possible to have multiple staff working on the same part of SRS simultaneously, so adding additional staff resource will not address these challenges. 

The complexity of the changes  and new data items to be collected may impact some existing business processes. This may so change how we process information about students.

HESA Project Timelines

HESA have experienced various challenges during the implementation of the project, which means that the original timescales have been adjusted. The first year of submitting the new Data Futures return is 2022/23.

The Alpha Phase of the HESA Data Futures Project runs from May 2021 to January 2022 (with a pause in October 2021), the Beta Phase will then run from February 2022 to August 2022.  This will be followed by the HESA Student Collection for 2022/23 from August 2022 to July 2023, and then the HESA Student Collection for 2023/24 from August 2023 to July 2024.


•Requirements Analysis

•Data Gap Assessment

1Q/2Q 2022

•Gateway Systems Development Phase 1

•Specification development


•Test Phase 1

• Gateway Development deployment to Live

•Analysis of Remaining Data Model


•Development Phase 2

•Specification/Test cycles  to follow academic year.


•Specification of HESA XML Compilation Tool

Further Information

For further information please refer to the HESA microsite for Data Futures.