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About action plans

There are two main reasons why universities, colleges or alternative providers might submit an action plan:

  • if errors have been identified in their data
  • if they are required to respond following data assurance work.

In general, the main parts of an action plan are:

  • identification of the area of difference
  • an explanation of why an error and/or difference has occurred
  • which HESA, ILR or primary derived fields may need changing
  • the extent of changes to data (for example, the number of students).

An action plan allows HEFCE to process this information accurately and quickly and acts as a central record.

Please note that we may audit a sample of providers' action plans to ensure that the changes on the action plans are supplemented by appropriate records and evidence.


Submitting and completing action plans

In order to submit an action plan, the university, college or alternative provider must complete an action plan template. These can be downloaded and submitted via the HEFCE extranet.

Please follow the links below for detailed guidance on specific action plans, including how to obtain, submit and complete them.

Following assessment of the action plan by HEFCE, institutions will be contacted about processing the amendment(s).


When correcting or overriding data

This type of action plan will help us to understand why corrections are needed, and which HESA, ILR or primary derived fields are involved. 

HESA data

Errors in HESA student data should be resolved by submitting post-collection amendments to their HESA return (fixed database). HESA will not accept amendments until it has received confirmation that we are content with the institution's action plan.

ILR data

Where errors in ILR data need to be corrected, we require colleges to submit amendments to HEFCE.

Overrides to primary derived files (HEFCE-funded institutions only)

Re-creation algorithms may occasionally result in correct HESA or ILR data generating derived fields that do not appropriately reflect a student's actual characteristics in the re-creations. In such cases, a primary derived field override file can be used to correct the derived fields so that the appropriate characteristics are incorporated in the re-creation.

Historic data error (HDE) files (HEFCE-funded institutions only)

Errors in 'historic' HESA data should be resolved by submitting an HDE file. This refers to HESA data returns that can no longer be corrected through submission of HESA post-collection amendments (fixed database) after the closing date.

This will let us correct the primary derived fields for the individual students affected. 


Responding to a funding data reconciliation (HEFCE-funded institutions only)

This sort of action plan should demonstrate that the institution or college is able to identify, explain and remedy the areas and causes of any discrepancies following the data assurance work.

We need to gain assurance that the university or college will put in place systems or processes to reduce the likelihood of similar errors recurring in future returns.

The action plan will allow us to assess whether an institution is likely to require further assistance to respond adequately to the assurance questions.


Page last updated 13 April 2017