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Foreword - Higher Education Statistics 2008/09

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 2008/09. This is the latest edition in a series that was initiated by the then Department for Education in 1993. It is a National Statistics publication.

The volume aims to present a comprehensive set 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. Additionally, figures for The University of Buckingham, a non-publicly-funded institution voluntarily providing data to HESA, are included.

In order to minimise the risk of disclosure of personal information about any individual, all headcount and apportioned numbers are rounded to the nearest multiple of 5. The consequence of this is that the sum of numbers in each row or column rarely matches 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 majority of the data come from the various data streams collected annually by HESA:

  • Details of student enrolments (shown in Tables 0, 1-8) are taken from the Student Record which is an inclusive 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 Data Service (covering English FECs), the Scottish Funding Council, the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills (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 9).
  • Tables 10a and 10b report on students studying wholly overseas, but registered with, or studying for an award of, a UK higher education institution.
  • Information on the destinations of newly qualified HE students (Tables 11ai, 11aii and 11b) is taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, which records the employment/study situation of graduates six months after graduation.
  • The Staff Record provides details of academic and non-academic staff employed in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) (Tables 15 and 16).
  • The Finance Record provides details of the income and expenditure of HEIs (Tables 17 & 18).

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 12, 13a, 13b, 13c, 14a and 14b). 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 19a, 19b, 19c and 19d).

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which compiles data on international comparisons of HE participation and graduation rates (Table 20).

The Office for National Statistics compiles data for ‘the Labour Force Survey’ on a quarterly basis covering the whole of the UK (Tables 21a and 21b).

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 Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Welsh Assembly Government, Scottish Government and the Department for Employment and Learning (Northern Ireland) with whom we have worked closely in preparing it, in accordance with the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

  • Alison Allden
  • Chief Executive

© Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2010