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What do HE students study?

HE Student Data What do HE students study?

On this page: Complete subject breakdown | Personal characteristics | Changes over time | Subjects by HE provider

These tables and charts show the subjects that students study in higher education. Subjects are coded according to the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS). Detailed subject codes are grouped into Principal subjects, which are then arranged into 19 Subject areas. Some information is taken from Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2016/17 (SFR) and Higher Education Student Statistics: Alternative Providers, 2016/17 (SFR) releases.

All tables and charts include a link underneath allowing you to download the data. Many tables also include a link to download the complete source data as a machine-readable csv file.

Complete subject breakdown

The table below provides subject codes at the maximum four-digit level of detail. Use the Subject of study drop-down to choose between Subject area (19 high level groups), Principal subject (165 two-digit codes), or 4-digit JACS subject (for maximum detail).

Table 22 - HE student enrolments by subject of study and domicile

2016/17

 
 
 
 
 
 
What if a student studies more than one subject?

Figures in subject tables are Full Person Equivalent (FPE). If a student on a course (an 'instance') studies more than one subject we apportion that instance between those subjects. For example, a student studying ⅔ Business studies and ⅓ French will be counted as 0.67 FPE in Business & administrative studies and 0.33 FPE in Languages.

The following table gives a breakdown of students by subject, including students on designated courses at alternative HE providers. For more details on alternative HE providers, see our Higher Education Student Statistics: Alternative Providers, 2016/17 release.

Figure 12 - HE student enrolments (including on AP designated courses) by subject area and sex

2016/17

 
 
 
 
 

Personal characteristics

Chart 7 - All students by subject area and sex

2016/17

 

Figure 15 - Percentage of HE student enrolments in science subject areas by personal characteristics

2012/13 to 2016/17

 
 
 
 
 
Are science subject areas the same as STEM?

There is no single official definition of which subjects make up STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). The HESA science grouping includes subjects like medicine, nursing and agriculture that may not be included in other definitions of STEM.

View more detailed subject breakdowns by ethnicity, disability, age and entry qualifications

Changes over time

This chart shows the change in student numbers studying each subject from one year to the next. Use the buttons to see either percentage change or the change in actual numbers. Subjects with smaller numbers of students sometimes show large percentage fluctuations that actually represent small numbers of students.

Figure 13 - Change in HE student enrolments by subject area between 2015/16 and 2016/17

 

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What is the Combined subject area?

Combined is used for courses that cover a range of subjects, such as modular courses offered by The Open University.

Figure 14 - HE student enrolments by subject area and sex

2012/13 to 2016/17

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Subjects by HE provider

The table below gives a breakdown of students by subject at each HE provider. If you select either the science or non-science principal subjects buttons, a drop-down menu will appear allowing you to show detailed principal subject breakdowns within each subject area. For example, select Languages to see the separate figures for Chinese, French, Spanish, etc.

See Where do HE students study? for further information on specific universities and other HE providers

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Table 13 - HE student enrolments by HE provider and subject of study

2016/17

 
 
 
 
 
 

Table 13 - HE student enrolments by HE provider and subject of study

2016/17

 
 
 
 
 
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Table 13 - HE student enrolments by HE provider and subject of study

2016/17

 
 
 
 
 
This is a large table and will take a moment to load...

View more detail about sandwich courses, teacher training courses and MBA programmes

Further data

Next: What are HE students' progression rates and qualifications?

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