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Dear Accountable Officer

HESA AP funding and monitoring data (FAMD) 2015‑16: comparative outputs

1. This circular letter notifies alternative providers (APs) of the process for quality assuring their Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data using comparative outputs generated by HEFCE. These outputs begin to become available from today. These outputs allow providers to verify, and where appropriate correct, their 2015-16 HESA student data before signing it off with HESA.

2. HESA and HEFCE strongly encourage engagement with these comparative outputs, which we regard as an essential element of all providers’ data quality processes. It will help providers to:

  • return accurate data to HESA
  • verify the accuracy of the derived fields that may inform and monitor student number control (SNC) allocations
  • respond to data verification queries raised by HEFCE staff
  • identify errors in the Higher Education in Alternative Providers Early Statistics survey for 2015-16 (HEAPES15).

3. Providers may view their comparative outputs by submitting their data to HESA’s 2015-16 AP student data collection system; this will automatically trigger the generation of the outputs which will be made available as the ‘IRIS – HEAPES reconciliation and Funding Council output’ report which can be accessed through the HESA data collection system.

Action required

4. HEFCE staff will query (via HESA’s Minerva Data Quality System) potential errors in the HESA data which could affect the monitoring of the SNC allocations. Failure to respond to these queries may delay the signing-off of your HESA data. Further details of this process are described in the ‘Data verification’ section of our website (,verification/). We expect all providers to respond to data verification questions before the HESA sign-off deadline.

6. Where the outputs reveal discrepancies between their HESA data and other data returns (detailed further below), we expect providers to take full account of this when preparing any future data returns. We therefore strongly encourage providers to analyse the outputs as part of their data quality, planning and audit processes.


7. The release timetable for the outputs is as follows:

      By Monday 8 August 2016

  1. HEAPES15 re-creation. This is a re-creation of your HEAPES15 return using the student data you have submitted to HESA, with discrepancies between the two identified.

      By Monday 17 October 2016

  1. 2015-16 Student Loans Company (SLC) comparison. This output compares your HESA data with your SLC records to establish where there are any inconsistencies between the two, with regard to students receiving student support.

Final HEAPES15 re-creation

7. We will email providers’ data contacts to announce their availability.

8. The outputs generated contain illustrative recruitment against the 2015-16 SNC. Once the data has been signed off we will produce a final re-creation of your HEAPES15 return using this data. This will be used to determine whether you have recruited above your 2015-16 SNC allocation. The algorithms used to generate the outputs are generally expected to be the same as the final HEAPES15 re‑creation; however we may make changes where we believe these will improve the algorithms.

Data confidentiality

9. HEFCE staff will access data submitted to HESA before sign-off and will raise queries about this data, with a view to improving the quality of a provider’s returns or to investigate algorithmic issues. Further information on how we handle personal data can be provided on request. See our website for further details (

10. The comparative output generated for your SLC return should be kept in confidence. In viewing this output, through HESA’s Minerva Data Quality System, you accept this commitment of confidentiality.

Further information

11. Technical information (including algorithms) is listed under ‘Technical Documentation – Alternative Providers’ (

12. If you require any further information or guidance please contact Rachel Acton, tel 0117 931 7158, email

Yours sincerely

Madeleine Atkins

Chief Executive

Date: 11 August 2016

Ref: Circular letter 21/2016

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Student data, Planning, Finance, Audit

Enquiries should be directed to:

Rachel Acton, tel 0117 931 7158, email