Highest qualification on entry(HIGHESTQOE)

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Highest qualification on entry
Short Name
Parent Entity
Applicable To
England Northern Ireland Scotland Wales

All EntryProfile entities except where Engagement.INCOMINGEXCHANGE exists or (Leaver.ENGENDDATE - Engagement.ENGSTARTDATE <= 14 days and RSNENGEND = 03, 05, 11, 12) or (CourseInitiative.COURSEINITID = 027 or StudentInitiative.STUINITID = 027 or 030)

This field records the highest qualification held by the student prior to the Engagement, this is not necessarily the qualification applicable to entry to the course.

For students entering through UCAS this information will be available from UCAS via the *J transaction, however the legacy codes from 2021/22 will be supplied instead and there is no direct mapping to the 2022/23 codes. Providers are expected to survey students against the new coding frames each year. The details of the coding that will be provided by UCAS can be found in the *J specification.

This field records a student's highest qualification on entry to the Engagement and so should reflect the position when the first StudentCourseSession associated with the Engagement begins. Honorary qualifications should not be taken into account.

This field must NOT be updated to reflect qualifications gained during the Engagement. Providers in England need to consider qualifications gained by students during their Engagement to establish ELQ status but must not subsequently update EntryProfile.HIGHESTQOE to reflect any new qualifications gained.

If the student has not yet received a formal award, but the provider has seen the transcript given by the awarding body of the qualification that contains all the necessary information, this can be reflected in highest qualification on entry

Overall framework and alignment with existing frameworks

The first character of the valid entries in the coding frame indicate the level of the qualification. The table below shows how these levels map to the following qualifications frameworks: 


HESA levelCQFWFHEQOfSSCQFResearch/Taught
P3  6

Overseas qualifications

If the provider is unsure as to how to code an overseas qualification, because it does not clearly fall into the EntryProfile.HIGHESTQOE categories, they may wish to seek advice from the UK ENIC (http://www.enic.org.uk/) about the relative level, and code the qualification accordingly. UK ENIC advise on the comparability of a qualification to an equivalent on the UK level system http://www.qaa.ac.uk/docs/qaa/quality-code/qualifications-can-cross-boundaries.pdf?sfvrsn=a852f981_12 - this information can then be used to assign a generic code at the appropriate level e.g. P0013 Other qualification at level 3.

Further guidance for specific codes:

Guidance on the use of P0013 Other qualification at level 3

  • P0013 Other qualification at level 3

Where a student’s highest qualification on entry is at level 3 and no other code is appropriate, this should be coded P0013. Consequently, students holding UK qualifications should not be allocated to P0013 as another P code will be applicable. Students recorded as P0013 will typically be international students with non-UK qualifications. 

P0013 should be returned where the student holds multiple non-UK qualifications at level 3 as their highest qualification on entry, irrespective of whether those qualifications are subject to UCAS Tariff. Where a student has a mixture of UK qualifications subject to UCAS Tariff and non-UK qualifications at level 3 as their highest qualification on entry, the code P0016 should be used. 

Multiple qualifications at level 3: P0014, P0015 and P0016

The following codes are available for the coding of students with multiple UK level 3 qualifications as their highest qualification on entry: 

  • P0014 UK level 3 qualifications of which none are subject to UCAS Tariff
  • P0015 UK level 3 qualifications of which all are subject to UCAS Tariff
  • P0016 Level 3 qualifications of which some are UK qualifications subject to UCAS Tariff

Whether the qualification is subject to UCAS Tariff should be based upon the type of qualification, rather than whether the student's grade for the qualification attracts tariff points. For example, where a student holds non-tariff bearing grades for a tariff-bearing qualification, the appropriate P code for the level 3 qualification or P0015/P0016 should be used in EntryProfile.HIGHESTQOE, rather than P0014. 

UK level 3 qualifications that cannot be matched to a QUALTYPE will not be subject to UCAS Tariff and should therefore be treated as P0014, or P0016 if the student has another UK level 3 qualification that does attract tariff. 

For providers who receive the UCAS data for HESA (*J) transaction, the HIGHESTQOE value within the *J file will be populated from the associated UCAS Apply data to derive a HIGHESTQOE value of P0015 or P0016. Providers can then update this coding where further qualifications on entry information has been obtained from the entrant. 

No hierarchy is implied in level 3 qualifications. If a mixture of qualifications is relevant, then use code P0014, P0015, or P0016, rather than any single qualification included, such as A/AS Level. Please be aware that P0014 may be used as a filter to exclude instances with no tariffable qualifications from calculations of UCAS Tariff. 

X0000 Higher education (HE) access course, Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) recognised and X0001 Higher education (HE) access course, not Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) recognised.

A recognised Access to HE course (code X0000) is one validated by an Authorised Validating Agency, licensed for the purpose by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) under the terms of the QAA Recognition Scheme for Access to Higher Education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Relevant Access courses are recorded on the Access to HE Courses Database. QAA does not licence any AVAs in Scotland.

Access courses at providers in Scotland can only be coded X0001 'Higher education (HE) access course, not Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) recognised'.

J0000 Foundation Degree

J0000 covers those programmes providers are running as foundation degrees, which are consistent with the 'Statement of Design Principles' for foundation degrees issued by UUK and GuildHE.

X0002 'Mature student admitted on basis of previous experience and/or admissions test'

Code X0002 should only be used where the student does not have any formal qualifications at level 3 or above. For students holding qualifications at level 3 or above who are admitted on the basis of APL or an admissions test or audition, the relevant code for their level 3 or above qualification(s) should be used in preference to X0002. Students holding level 1 or 2 qualifications who were admitted on the basis of previous experience and/or admissions test should be returned as X0002.

Code 99999 Not available

Code 99999 may be used where the provider does not know the highest qualification on entry but must not be used as a default. Providers are expected to seek and code the highest qualification on entry.


For Office for Students (OfS) fundable students (FundingBody.FUNDINGBODY=5016 OfS) it is expected that the highest qualification on entry will be known, as without this information it is not possible to determine whether or not the student falls under the ELQ policy. Details of the ELQ policy can be found in HESES Annex G, which can be downloaded via the OfS website https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications

Some students are exempt from the ELQ policy, for example those on foundation degrees. Whilst the requirement for highest qualification on entry data for these students is less, OfS would still expect providers to make reasonable endeavours to ensure that this field is completed as precisely as possible. This is because these students may move from an exempt to a non-exempt category, at which point their highest qualification would be relevant in determining their fundability. It is not possible, in all cases, to fully determine whether or not a student is an ELQ solely using EntryProfile.HIGHESTQOE and Qualification.QUALCAT (e.g. where the student has gained a qualification since starting their Engagement this could lead to them becoming an ELQ, but would not be reflected in EntryProfile.HIGHESTQOE).

For codes P0015 and P0016 OfS expect to see entries in the EntryQualificationAward entity.

OfS use qualification on entry data to inform funding. Since 2005-06 students with unknown entry qualifications have received zero weighting in the widening participation and improving retention funding streams. In particular, where students have entered via UCAS with qualifications that are made available by UCAS for inclusion on the HESA Student record which are not returned by providers OfS may give them a zero weight.

Reason Required
To provide information about a student's qualification(s) on entry, to identify students with tariff bearing qualifications and non-traditional qualifications for analysis, used to support funding allocations and to calculate the National Statistic - Higher Education Initial Participation Rate.
Field Length
Quality RulesQuality Rules to follow
Minimum Occurrence
Maximum Occurrence
Primary Key?
Valid Values
CodeCoding Frame Label
99999Not available
C0000Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE)
C0001Higher National Certificate (HNC)
C0004National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) at level C
C0007Other qualification at level C
C0008Credits at level C
C0010Higher Apprenticeship (level 4)
D0000UK doctorate degree
D0001Non-UK doctorate degree
D0002Other qualification at level D
H0000UK first degree with honours
H0001Non-UK first degree
H0002First degree with honours leading to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)/registration with a General Teaching Council (GTC)
H0013Professional Graduate Certificate in Education
H0016Other qualification at level H
I0000UK ordinary (non-honours) first degree
J0000Foundation degree
J0002Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
J0003Higher National Diploma (HND)
J0007Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) 4
J0008Certificate in Education (CertEd) or Diploma in Education (DipEd)
J0009Foundation course at level J
J0010Other qualification at level J
M0000UK masters degree
M0001Non-UK masters degree
M0002Integrated undergraduate/postgraduate taught masters degree on the enhanced/extended pattern
M0009Diploma at level M
M0012Certificate at level M
M0016Postgraduate Certificate in Education or Professional Graduate Diploma in Education
M0021Other taught qualification at level M
M0022Credits at level M
P0000Diploma at level 3
P0001Certificate at level 3
P0002Award at level 3
P0003AQA Baccalaureate (Bacc)
P0004A/AS level
P000514-19 Advanced Diploma (level 3)
P0006Scottish Baccalaureate
P0007Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers
P0008International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma
P0009International Baccalaureate (IB) Certificate
P0010Cambridge Pre-U Diploma
P0011Cambridge Pre-U Certificate
P0012Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma (level 3)
P0013Other qualification at level 3
P0014UK Level 3 qualifications of which none are subject to UCAS Tariff
P0015UK Level 3 qualifications of which all are subject to UCAS Tariff
P0016Level 3 qualifications of which some are UK qualifications subject to UCAS Tariff
P0017T levels
Q000014-19 Higher Diploma (level 2)
Q0001Welsh Baccalaureate Intermediate Diploma (level 2)
Q0002Other qualification at level 2
R000014-19 Foundation Diploma (level 1)
R0001Welsh Baccalaureate Foundation Diploma (level 1)
R0002Other qualification at level 1
X0000Higher education (HE) access course, Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) recognised
X0001Higher education (HE) access course, not Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) recognised
X0002Mature student admitted on basis of previous experience and/or admissions test
X0003Other qualification level not known
X0004Student has no formal qualification
Revision Historyhttps://www.hesa.ac.uk/support/coding-manual-tools/revision-histories?Collection=22056