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Foreword - Higher Education Statistics 2003/04

Foreword by the Chief Executive of HESA

HESA is pleased to present the annual official statistical overview of higher education in the United Kingdom (UK) for the year 2003/04. This volume is part of a series that was initiated by the then Department for Education in 1993. It is a National Statistics publication.

The volume aims to present the major points of statistical information about all aspects of the UK higher education sector. It is unique in providing the basic figures not only about the students of higher education institutions, but also about applicants, staffing, finance, student support, and other aspects of higher education provision. The volume also includes summary statistics about study at higher education level in further education colleges, and it therefore presents figures illustrating the totality of higher education provision in publicly-funded institutions in the UK.

To comply with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998, HESA implements a strategy in published and released tabulations designed to minimise the risk of disclosure of personal information about any individual. This strategy involves rounding all headcount and apportioned numbers to the nearest multiple of 5, so the appearance of a zero in the tables does not imply that no individuals are counted in that cell*. Total figures are also subject to this rounding methodology; the consequence of this is that the sum of numbers in each row or column will rarely match the total shown precisely. Further details are included in the definitions.

Sources of data

The information in this volume is derived from a wide range of sources as listed below. More detailed descriptions of these sources are given in the Definitions section at the back of the volume.

The bulk of the data come from the various data streams collected annually by HESA:

  • Details of student enrolments (shown in Tables 0, 1–7, 18) are taken from the Student Record which is an exhaustive count of all students on higher education courses (postgraduate and undergraduate) in HE sector institutions. Similar data for HE students enrolled at FE sector colleges (shown in table 0) are taken from individual student data collected by the Learning and Skills Council (covering English FECs), the Scottish Further Education Funding Council, the National Council for Education and Training for Wales and the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland.
  • The Student Record also records the numbers of students who successfully complete their courses (shown in table 8).
  • Information on the first destinations of newly qualified HE students (tables 9ai, 9aii and 9b) is taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, which records the employment/study situation of graduates six months after graduation.
  • Students on courses which do not lead to a qualification or recognised credit are taken from the Non-Credit Bearing (NCB) Course record (table 10).
  • The New Individualised Staff Record provides details of academic and non-academic staff employed in UK HEIs (table 14)
  • The Finance Record provides details of the income and expenditure of HEIs (tables 15 & 16).

Other sources used are:

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), who collect information on applicants and accepted applicants to full-time undergraduate courses (shown in tables 11, 12a, 12b, 12c, 13a and 13b). The UCAS figures do not cover part-time undergraduate courses or postgraduate courses. Although UCAS process applications for PGCEs, they are not included in the standard datasets released via their website, from which the figures in the tables are taken.

The Student Loans Company, who collect information on students taking out loans and the amounts borrowed (tables 17a, 17b, 17c and 17d).

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which compiles data on international comparisons of HE participation and graduation rates (table 19).

The Office for National Statistics compiles data on the Labour Force Survey on a quarterly basis covering the whole of the UK (tables 20a and 20b).

The volume draws, to a certain extent, on material which is further analysed or elaborated upon in other HESA publications (described at the back of this volume).

The Agency appreciates the collaboration of all the bodies that have made data available for the volume, and in particular that of our colleagues in the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), with whom we have worked closely in preparing it.

  • Robin Sibson
  • Chief Executive

* 0,1,2 round to 0; 3,4,5,6,7 round to 5; 8,9,10,11,12 round to 10; and so on.

Copyright © Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2005