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Figure 4 - HE student enrolments at HE and FE providers by level of study and HE provider type 2016/17 to 2020/21

HE Student Data

Figure 4 - HE student enrolments at HE and FE providers by level of study and HE provider type

Academic years 2016/17 to 2020/21


Figures for FE providers in England were provided by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). Counts have been derived from the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) and include students who were enrolled in higher level study at providers regulated by both the Office for Students (OfS) and ESFA. Students enrolled in community or workplace based learning (including traineeships that were not a full programme aim or apprenticeships) have been excluded from the figures. For enrolments where information on mode of study was unavailable, students with 450 or more planned learning hours have been classified as full-time, and those with under 450 planned learning hours have been classified as part-time. A notable reduction has been observed in learners enrolled for higher education at further education providers since 2018/19. This is partly due to some providers transferring from the further education to the higher education sector in 2018/19 and so reporting their HE provision to HESA rather than ESFA.

HE students registered at FE providers in Wales were returned to the HESA student record. For this figure students registered at FE providers in Wales are counted towards the FE Total. In other figures, these students are counted towards the HE total. As such, totals between this figure and others may differ.

Figures for FE providers in Scotland were supplied by the Scottish Funding Council, and cover Scotland's Colleges. In Scotland there is some overlap in the reporting of student enrolments by HEPs and Colleges where both the HEP and College share responsibility for the student. SFC estimates the number of these associate students to be around 1,500.

Figures for FE providers in Northern Ireland were supplied by the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland (DfE(NI)).

Type of data

Administrative data

Data source

HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) is part of Jisc. We are the experts in UK higher education data and analysis. We have been collecting higher education information since the 1994/95 academic year.

Student data is taken from both the HESA Student record and the HESA Student Alternative record. Universities, colleges and other higher education providers return data to HESA via one or other of these records on an annual basis. The records collect a wide range of information, including data about students' personal characteristics, courses and modules of study, and qualifications achieved. The Student alternative record first began in the 2014/15 academic year, with data published from the record from 2015/16 onwards. Data on students pursuing teacher training qualifications is taken from the Initial Teacher Training record, while data on students studying wholly overseas is taken from the Aggregate offshore record.

We provide data and analysis on students to a wide variety of customers, including:

  • Governments
  • Universities (via the Heidi Plus analytics tool)
  • Academic and commercial researchers
  • Students and potential students
  • Policy makers.

Our data is used to regulate the sector, inform policy making, advance understanding of social and economic trends, support student decision making, and enhance public understanding of - and confidence in - the higher education sector.

Rounding and suppression strategy

We implement a rounding and suppression strategy in published and released tabulations designed to prevent the disclosure of personal information about any individual. This strategy involves rounding all numbers to the nearest multiple of 5 and suppressing percentages and averages based on small populations.

Related releases

We publish annual statistical bulletins about students in higher education.

Our HE Student Data pages collect together all of the tables we publish on students in higher education.

Further information

open-data   Open data licence: CC-BY-4.0