Further Guidance on Session Years and Student Course Sessions

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Version 1.0 Produced 2021-09-20

Session Years and Student Course Sessions

This document provides general guidance regarding the return of SessionYears and StudentCourseSessions as well as some scenarios for how these would be returned. 

General principles 




  • SessionYears must be 12 months in length. If the course is shorter than a standard year in its entirety or it is a preparatory element of a course, then the provider can chose to return a short SessionYear. A provider may also choose to attach the course to an existing SessionYear.
  • The SessionYear records the planned dates for a course year only and so different SessionYears are not required to be returned for different student activity or patterns of study
  • SessionYears are not required for fully flexible or postgraduate research courses




  • StudentCourseSessions associate an Engagement with the Course the student is studying on and the SessionYear (unless the course is fully flexible or postgraduate research)
  • In most cases, a StudentCourseSession records a year of a student’s activity. Examples of where a StudentCourseSession would be less than the student's standard course year would be when the student withdraws from a course or the course length is shorter than a year, as seen in StudentCourseSession scenario 5
  • The StudentCourseSession dates must record the actual dates that the student was studying on a course year
  • For fully flexible and postgraduate research provision, yearlong StudentCourseSessions are returned starting from the date the student commenced study
  • An Engagement cannot have overlapping StudentCourseSessions.


How SessionYears and StudentCourseSessions work together: 


  • The SessionYear records 12-month duration/ continuance, the StudentCourseSession records the actual dates. So a StudentCourseSession may have different dates to the associated SessionYear if the student starts late or leaves early.
  • The StudentCourseSession dates must be contained within the dates of the associated SessionYear
  • If a student moves between different SessionYears (or Courses), the first StudentCourseSession would be closed, and a new StudentCourseSession returned associated with the new SessionYear and/or Course
  • The actual planned start date of the course must be within 14 days of the SessionYear.SYSTARTDATE. As it is the planned start date of the course, we would only expect to see a StudentCourseSession.SCSSTARTDATE outside of the 14 days if the student joins the course late (which may include transfers).


SessionYear scenario 1 

A provider offers a number of courses that all start on the 21st September 2020. The courses are across different subjects, modes and types of activity e.g. with and without a sandwich year. 

As all the years of the courses start at the same point, one SessionYear would be required for each year that these courses will run. Each SessionYear will be a year in length.

If the provider offered a number of courses that start within a short space of time, different SessionYears are not required, however the SessionYear.SYSTARTDATE must be within 14 days of the actual planned start date of the course. For example, if the provider offers a course that started on the 25th of September, students on this course could be associated with the above SessionYears, rather than new SessionYears being required to be returned. 

SessionYear scenario 2 

The provider additionally offers one of these courses with entry points in September, January and April. 

As the course has different entry points throughout the year, a different SessionYear is required for each start point for each year the course runs. Each SessionYear will be a year long.

SessionYear scenario 3

The provider has a short course that runs for 3 months each summer.

As the course is shorter than a year for its entirety, one 3-month long SessionYear could be returned for each time the course runs.

SessionYear scenario 4

The provider has an 18-month course which starts in October each year.
As the course is longer than a year in its entirety, each SessionYear must be a year long. One yearlong SessionYear must be returned in each year the course runs.

This allows students in their first and second years of study to be associated with the same SessionYears (see StudentCourseSession scenario 4).


SessionYear scenario 5

The provider offers a foundation degree to degree bridging course. This lasts for one month before the students move onto the third year of a first degree course.

As this first month is a bridging course, the first SessionYear can last for just the month of the bridging element. 
The student can then be associated with the same SessionYear as other students who did not undertake the bridging element (see StudentCourseSession scenario 5).
This only applies where the student’s Engagement starts with a preparatory phase such as a bridging course (StudentCourseSession.PREPFLAG = 01). 



StudentCourseSession scenarios

The following scenarios show how StudentCourseSessions would be returned in a number of different circumstances. These use, where applicable, the SessionYears outlined above to show how StudentCourseSessions and SessionYears, link together.


StudentCourseSession scenario 1

Student 1 is undertaking a first degree starting on the 21st September 2020.

Their first StudentCourseSession would therefore be returned associated with SessionYear 1.

 A number of other students are also undertaking the first degree but on different study patterns. Provided they are all on a course year with a planned start date aligning with SessionYear 1, they are all associated with SessionYear 1.


StudentCourseSession scenario 2

Student 6 is studying for a first degree which started on the 21st September 2020, but the student started late, in October. The student will be continuing study alongside other students who started on the 21st September and has the same expected end date. They therefore wouldnot have a different SessionYear as the SessionYear reflects the planned start date of the course year. As the StudentCourseSession start date is 14 days after the SessionYear start date, this will need to be explained and tolerated in the collection system

StudentCourseSession scenario 3

Student 7 starts studying on a course starting on 21st September 2020 but has to resit the first term. They therefore move to the cohort of January starters to resit term one and continue their study.
They would therefore move between different SessionYears as they have moved between the cohorts starting in September and January.


This means that each of the student’s years of study can be returned with StudentCourseSessions reflecting the actual dates of these years of study, rather than continuing to be returned starting in September.

StudentCourseSession scenario 4

Student 8 is studying on an 18-month course starting in October 2020.
Student 9 is studying the same course starting in October 2021.


Having yearlong SessionYears for an 18 month course means that students in different years of the course can still be associated with the same SessionYears. 

The StudentCourseSession dates must reflect the student’s pattern of study so StudentCourseSessions of different lengths are associated with the same SessionYear.

StudentCourseSession scenario 5

Student 10 is undertaking a bridging course prior to completing the final year of a first degree.


Having a shorter first StudentCourseSession and SessionYear means that students who completed the bridging course and those that did not can all be associated with SessionYear 2 when completing their final year, rather than having separate SessionYears for those that did the bridging course.

Both StudentCourseSessions would be linked to a Course with a qualification aim of a first degree as this is the student’s aim throughout their study.


StudentCourseSession scenario 6

Student 11 starts studying on a politics and history course in September 2020. After the first term they transfer to studying a politics course at the same level.



As the student has transferred courses, the first StudentCourseSession must be closed with a reason for ending of 03 ‘Transferred within the provider’. A new StudentCourseSession is returned associated with a new course (linked to a qualification with the new subject).

Both StudentCourseSessions are associated with the same SessionYear  as the year of study started on 21st September 2020. If the new course had started on a different date, which was outside the 14 days of the SessionYear.SYSTARTDATE StudentCourseSession 2 would be linked to a different SessionYear.

StudentCourseSession scenario 7

Student 12 begins studying on a fully flexible course on the 1st October 2020.
SessionYears are not required for fully flexible courses (where Course.FULLYFLEX = 01).


SessionYears are also not required for postgraduate research courses (where Qualification.QUALCAT starts with D or L) so the same approach would be taken to returning StudentCourseSessions for PGR students.


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