The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) is the official agency for the collection, analysis and dissemination of quantitative information about Higher Education across the United Kingdom.

The data submitted by HE Institutions is used to produce statistics for each HEI. It also shows the institutions standing in various league tables across the sector. The data is widely used by the Higher Education Funding Councils and, specifically for us, HEFCW. Key data is made available by the University for internal and external use.

There are three main returns that the University is required to submit to HESA. Responsibility for submission lies across different departments:-

•Staff Return – Human Resources
•Student Return – SAMI, Academic Registry
•Finance Return – Finance

These three returns are then combined by HESA for other purposes. A sub-set of data is produced to generate information which is used in the production of the Graduate Outcomes Survey from HE return (GO), the Finance Statistics Return and the Higher Education-Business and Community Interaction Survey (HE-BCI) and the National Student Survey (NSS). The GO asks the student what they are doing now they’ve left University, the HE-BCI our finance and commercial activities and the NSS asks students how satisfied they were with the University, course etc. SAMI dissemminate the data sets produced by HESA to the appropriate staff across the University for the above surveys.

Substantial amounts of data entry and data validation is required before actual submission occurs and Welsh Institutions currently submit almost 150 pieces of data to HESA.


The University of South Wales are required to return HESA returns for all HE students and Ceri Langford-Jones coordinates this return and includes returns for;

  • All USW HE students
  • RWCMD HE students

After submission and validation by HESA of the returns, check documentation is produced for each institution. Figures produced in the check documentation are used by the University as authoritative statistics. SAMI analyse the data and extract key fields. A table of these key fields is produced. This document is added to annually and figures are available for the current academic session and the previous six years.

SAMI undertakes further analysis of the data and identifies where improvements can be made in subsequent years.

League Tables

HESA data is used by various newspapers to produce league tables. League tables rank all UK HEI‘s across numerous criteria. Publications are:-

The Guardian
The Times Higher
The Times – Good University Guide