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2016 annual accountability submissions FAQs

Annual accountability return

1. What are we expected to submit?

Details on the submissions and deadlines are given in the circular letter 31/2016 published on 6 October 2016 and in the letter emailed to institutional heads of finance in mid-October 2016.

Please note the content of the submission has changed for December 2016 and there is no HEFCE financial table as this information will be collected via the HESA finance record.

2. What happened to the HEFCE financial table (the excel workbook)?

For December 2016, finance data will be collected via the HESA finance record and forwarded on to HEFCE. This is to avoid duplication. The deadline for the HESA finance record is 1 December 2016. This has been brought forward to align with the submission to HEFCE. Institutions will still be required to submit a HEFCE forecast financial table in July, but not in December.

3. Who do I contact if I have a problem with my submission, HEFCE or HESA?

If you have problems with the HESA finance record, please contact HESA directly. Your HEFCE assurance consultant will be able to give you advice on other issues you have with the submission. For technical queries relating to FRS 102 or the HEFCE extranet, you may wish to contact

4. Why is HEFCE not collecting the Annual Monitoring Statement (AMS)?

The current form of the AMS is being discontinued. Information requests will instead be directed to the relevant institutional contact, allowing resource to be allocated on a more responsive and informed basis.

5. What is required for value for money (VFM) reporting?

Submission of a value for money report is now mandatory. The report must be received by an institution’s governing body or a delegated subcommittee. Please see circular letter 23/2016 for additional details.

6. What is the difference between the annual accountability return and annual provider review?

The revised operating model for quality assessment explains how the annual accountability return is brought together with other accountability arrangements under a single coherent process called the annual provider review.

The main change for submissions is that the annual accountability return now includes assurances from a provider’s governing body about the quality and standards of its higher education provision.

7. Where is the template for the assurances from the governing body (known as the annual assurance return)?

You can download the template from the HEFCE extranet.

For higher education institutions, a copy of the template was included as Annex A in the circular letter 31/2016.

For further education colleges, a copy of the template was included as Annex B in the circular letter 25/2016.

8. Will we be contacted or provided with feedback on our return?

The assurance team may contact you to clarify the content of your submission or ask for additional context.

Annual risk assessment letters will be issued to institutions in spring 2017 and this will now include the judgement made about quality and standards as well as the assessment of the December annual accountability returns.

TRAC return

9. Where is the TRAC return guidance?

Details on the submission of the TRAC return are given in the circular letter 31/2016 published on 6 October 2016. Read version 2.0 of the TRAC guidance, applicable for reporting on the 2015-16 academic year

10. Do we need to post a hard copy of the TRAC return to you?

No. As for last year’s submission, we are asking institutions to upload their signed hard copy of the annual TRAC return to us electronically via the HEFCE extranet.

Institutions should download and print their results file. The return should then be signed by the accountable officer (head of institution) and then scanned as a PDF and uploaded to the HEFCE extranet.

In the event of further difficulties, contact or call Emma Allum (0117 931 7259).

11. Has my annual TRAC return file uploaded successfully to the HEFCE extranet?

To check if your file has been processed successfully please review the messages in the section ‘History of Annual TRAC return 2015-16 submissions’. If your return has uploaded successfully, the link ‘Results’ will become active. By clicking on this link, you can download your results package. You should review this results file to check you have passed the validation checks which are performed during the upload process.

12. The annual TRAC return workbook shows a validation failure, what should we do?

If your workbook has a validation error, please check your data to make sure it has been entered correctly. If you understand your data to be correct, then please provide an explanation in your commentary document and then upload your return. The commentary document should be saved as a word document or PDF and uploaded to the HEFCE extranet using the commentary document link.

Extranet access and uploads

13. The Director of Finance has not received their letter advising how to access the templates. What should we do?

The letter was emailed to institutional heads of finance in mid-October 2016. If a further copy is required, please contact or if TRAC related.

14. We have not received the group key to access the surveys on the HEFCE extranet. What should we do?

Group keys are no longer needed to access surveys on the HEFCE extranet. Each institution has an extranet user administrator that manages extranet accounts for staff at their institution.

To access new surveys, you need to contact your institution’s extranet user administrator and ask to be added to the correct group. Names of the groups are in the letter that was emailed to heads of finance in mid-October 2016.

If you are having difficulties identifying the user administrator at your institution, please contact, or if TRAC related.

15. We are having difficulties with the HEFCE extranet. What should we do?

Where your extranet user administrator is unable to help please contact, or if TRAC related.

Alternatively, please call Matthew Eagles (0117 931 7291) or Joshua Tiley (0117 931 7152) if TRAC related.

16. Can we upload more than one document as commentary?

Yes, but to help us review these documents, please combine them into a single document before uploading them to the relevant link on the HEFCE extranet.

17. We want to modify or replace a document that has already been uploaded to the HEFCE extranet. What shall we do?

Please upload the revised correct document to the HEFCE extranet. If you upload more than once, the latest document will overwrite the previous ones.

If there are still difficulties, contact, or if TRAC related.

Page last updated 21 November 2016