ILR specification: 2020 to 2021

Student instance identifier: Field


An identification of the basic unit of 'a coherent engagement with the provider, aiming towards the award of a qualification(s) or credit' which is described in the HIN guidance section of HESA website.

Reason Required

To distinguish - and between years, link - episodes of study by the same student at the same provider; a vital tool (through the generation of UHN) to support year-on-year linkage, for example to link entities in the HESA record and for Unistats. Used in the Higher Education Initial Participation Rate (HEPPR) calculation and funding calculations by OfS.

Schema Definitions

XML Entity Name
Field Length
Data type
Minimum occurrences
Maximum occurrences

Collection Requirements

  • Collected for all aims


  • A field length of 20 is to allow institutions to use instance identifiers already held internally. However institutions may prefer to number Student instance identifier numbers sequentially starting from 1.

  • For full guidance about this field, please refer to the HESA specification. The same Student instance identifier number should be kept where studies already completed count towards the current learning aim and the pattern of study is regarded as normal progression at the provider. With the commencement of a new student instance, a new student instance identifier number would be allocated.

  • A new student instance identifier is not required, for example, where a learning aim changes or develops within a programme of study, for example Cert HE/Dip HE/Degree. It is also the case that the learning aim reference code in certain circumstances is not sufficient to define a learning aim uniquely, for example a learner studying concurrently for more than one HE professional qualification or other undergraduate diploma or certificate.

  • Once a record has been returned for one ILR year, records for that Student instance identifier will be required for subsequent years until a record is returned with the learning actual end date field completed.

  • String restrictions for wildcard characters *, ?, %, _ (underscore) removed.