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The University of Southampton
Student and Academic AdministrationAbout SAA

Student External Returns and Data

The Student External Returns & Data (SERD) team in the Office of the Academic Registrar (OAR) works closely with colleagues in the Student Experience Directorate and other professional services on the statutory requirements of collating and validating student data in the institution, as it forms the basis of statutory returns to external regulatory bodies. SERD validates data that is extracted and submitted to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the Office for Students (OfS), and other agencies.

The Team analyses requirements, locates and sources appropriate student data and designs Alteryx workflows to collate, analyse, interpret and present data.

Scheduled work includes:

To contact the Statutory External Returns & Data (SERD) team, please direct your enquiry to

Statutory Returns:

SERD is responsible for compiling several statutory returns on behalf of the institution. These include:

Who are HESA?

HESA are now part of Jisc and collect, assure and disseminate data about HE in the UK. . Jisc is the Designated Data Body for England under the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 with a statutory relationship to the Office for Students.

Why is the HESA Student Return important?

Data from the return is used to produce a key dataset for the HE sector to inform funding allocations, strategy/policy decisions, monitor adherence to conditions of registration and provide a mechanism for comparison using a standardised dataset. For example - statistical releases about the HE sector, league tables, performance monitoring for TEF and Access and Participation Plan (APP).

Who is included in the Student Return?

In general, the HESA Student record is collected in respect of all students registered at the reporting provider who are attending a course that leads to the award of a higher education qualification or higher education-level credit.

The specification of the record uses the term 'engagement' to describe a student's enrolment with the institution aiming towards the award of qualification(s) or credit.
We return all students with a student status of AS, LE or SU (i.e. active students, leavers and suspended students) unless:

In addition, HESA supply us with a list each year of those students who they expect to be returned. These will be students who have been returned in previous years without a leaving data and so, whatever their status, we need to return a record for them.

Statutory Returns: HESES

Office for Students Higher Education Early Statistics Survey (HESES)

OFS’s Higher Education Early Statistics Survey (HESES) requires that in December each year, all higher education institutions provide information about student numbers. From this, OFS calculates the amount of funding to be allocated to each institution in the following year.

Students (their full time equivalent - FTE) are counted in terms of:

Data for the compilation of this return is assembled, validated and returned to OFS by SERD.


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