Changes to collection; an updated range of questions; changes to data supplied to HESA

From the autumn of 2023, the University will be taking a more proactive approach to collecting employee data, with staff being asked more frequently to update their records.

This will cover an updated range of EDI characteristics that the University wants to monitor for equality, diversity and inclusion purposes.

Staff should be aware that:

  • Data on gender identity, religion or belief and sexual orientation that is supplied or updated by an academic, research or teaching employee on or after 18 September 2023 will be included in our 2022-23 HESA staff return (we do not currently return data on non-academic staff to HESA).
  • From 2023-24 onwards, we will include in our HESA staff returns any EDI data mandated by HESA. This will include data on gender identity, religion or belief and sexual orientation, and could include other fields that HESA may require in future, such as marital status. Any staff who don't want this or any other data on personal characteristics to be returned to HESA have until August 2024 to remove it from their employee record.

Keep reading for full details of these changes.


We want to advise staff about three areas of change in relation to the collection and use of employee equality, diversity and inclusion data:

  1. Changes to how and when we ask employees to provide us with data about their personal characteristics
  2. Changes to the data we collect
  3. Changes to the data that we supply to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

Changes to how and when we ask staff to provide data

Currently, we only directly ask staff to provide information on personal characteristics when they join the University. This creates a number of challenges:

  • As we only ask once, it is easy for new staff to forget to provide data. While staff can update their records at any time using the MyView service, there is rarely any prompt to do so.  This means that we do not hold data for some staff.
  • As some questions have only been introduced in recent years some staff have never been directly asked to provide that data.
  • Some of our data is likely to be out of date.

Starting this summer, we will start asking staff on a regular basis to update their data where their EDI data record is incomplete or out of date.

From 2024 we will start asking staff on an annual basis to consider whether their record needs updating.

We know that not all staff will want to provide responses to every question that we ask. We will ask staff to choose the 'prefer not to say' option that is available for each question. We can then stop asking that member of staff to provide data.

Changes to the data we collect

The University needs data on the characteristics of its employees so that our equality activities - such as equality pay gap analyses, or the tailoring of services and facilities to the needs of our staff - have real meaning.

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team, based on staff feedback and best practice, have identified changes to the data that we collect.

New questions from September 2023

  1. What is your sex?
    (This is a separate question from legal sex, which we ask of all new starters for HMRC purposes. We will use employees' responses here in preference to legal sex for internal purposes such as EDI analyses.)
  2. Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?
    (This replaces the question 'Sex Assigned at Birth' that has been asked since 2019. Any data provided in response to that question has been deleted.)
  3. Do you consider yourself to be trans, or have a trans history?
  4. Is English your first language?
  5. Were you born in the UK?

Updated questions

We have also updated the available responses to these questions:

  • Do you have a disability or ongoing health condition?
  • Do you have caring responsibilities?
  • What is your ethnicity or ethnic group?
  • What is your gender identity?
  • What is your legal marital status?
  • What is your religion or belief?
  • What is your sexual orientation?

These updates mean that an answer previously provided may now be unavailable. Where this has happened, we will be asking staff to choose a new response. If staff do not provide a new response, we will continue to hold their previous answer until they do so.

For all questions, staff have the opportunity to select a 'prefer not to say' response.

Changes to the data that we supply to HESA

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), as part of Jisc, is the Designated Data Body for higher education in England. This means that under UK law the University is required to provide HESA with a range of data on staff at an individual (albeit unnamed) level.

You can find more information about how HESA data is gathered and used at and

Starting from the 2022-23 return, HESA requires higher education institutions in England to supply data on gender identity, religion or belief and sexual orientation. Previously these items were optional parts of the HESA return, and following the principle of data minimisation the University did not provide them to HESA.

We have collected data on gender identity, religion or belief and sexual orientation from staff since 2019. While we're now obliged to return this data to HESA, we're mindful that at the point at which we started gathering this data we indicated to staff that it would only be used within the University.

We will therefore only include this data in the 2022-23 return where the individual has provided or updated it after 18 September 2023, staff at that point having had time to receive this update that the data will be passed to HESA.

For the 2023-24 return, we will include these fields (and any other data on EDI characteristics for individuals where it is mandated by HESA) where it is held by the University. This gives staff who don't want it to be returned to HESA until at least August 2024 to remove any such data from their record. They can do this by visiting MyView and setting their response to 'prefer not to say'.

Staff should be aware that we only return data to HESA about staff on academic, teaching or research contracts. Data on support staff is presently an optional part of the HESA return and, again following the principle of data minimisation, we do not return it.