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Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN) scope

Version Details

Version: 3.0
First Year: 2012
Last Year: 2013


Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN) is a number to uniquely identify a Commonwealth assisted student. All Commonwealth supported students or students receiving any HELP assistance (HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP, and OS-HELP) must have a CHESSN.

The Government will use the unique identifier to manage and monitor the Commonwealth assistance entitlements of a student as defined by the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA). The CHESSN allocated to a student is a life long identifier, therefore, except for exceptional circumstances, once a student is allocated a CHESSN it will remain with them for life. Equally an individual (student) may have only one CHESSN.

The data for CHESSN allocation can be provided in two ways:

  • In XML format sent to DEEWR via a web service channel (for allocation of one or many students); or
  • Typed directly into a DEEWR web browser screen available to HEPs (typically for allocation of a small number of CHESSNs).

The data sent via any of the above methods provides information about students to allow the allocation of a provisional CHESSN. The information provided will also be used to identify, with high probability, a unique individual so as to prevent and minimise allocating duplicate CHESSNs. A CHESSN will only become active within HEIMS when a record for the student is received in the Student Load-Liability submission. The HEP will inform the students of their CHESSN through the Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN).


A Commonwealth supported student or student in receipt of Commonwealth assistance must have a CHESSN prior to consuming any Commonwealth assistance or entitlement.


The CHESSN File structure document and related elements is available on the structure documents page.

The use of XML files means that there is no ‘fixed’ file structure like submissions reported through HEPCAT. XML element structures are hierarchical, which means that depending on certain data elements supplied, other data elements may not be required (effectively nulls are acceptable and permitted).

The XML file structures are flexible. Individual records may vary in size depending on the information required and submitted. The CHESSN data element specifications document contains details of the complete set of elements that can be supplied. The actual elements supplied depend on the characteristics of a student.

Records to be included

Include any domestic student providing informed consent for their data to be sent to HEIMS.

If a provider submits an XML file for the allocation of CHESSNs, there must be only one record for a particular student.

Records to be excluded

  • Domestic students not providing consent for their data to be sent to HEIMS; and
  • Overseas students

For more information about terms used in this document please refer to the Glossary.

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