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What do HE students study?: Types of subjects and courses

HE Student Data What do HE students study?

On this page: MBA students | Sandwich courses | Initial Teacher Training (ITT)

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The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation in March 2020, just over half way through the 2019/20 academic year. An insight brief has been published that analyses the impact of the pandemic on student data and trends across years of enrolments and qualifications across various characteristics. There are two known areas in which the pandemic has had some impact:

  • There is evidence to suggest that among a few providers, administrative hold-ups related to the pandemic resulted in significant numbers of qualifications awarded in 2019/20 not being reported. The impact of this under-reporting is believed to explain some of the 3% decrease in the number of qualifications achieved in 2019/20 compared with 2018/19, and the impact is most noticeable on the number of part-time qualifications awarded. Qualifications that were not reported in the 2019/20 academic year have carried over to 2020/21 and contributed to the 9% increase in the number of qualifications awarded in 2020/21.
  • In relation to classifications of first degrees and other awards, many providers issued public statements that a 'no detriment' approach would be adopted when it came to assessment in 2019/20. This typically ensured that students would be awarded a final grade no lower than the most recent provider assessment of their attainment.

The 2019/20 to 2021/22 data was collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Exceptional guidance was issued to HE providers regarding a number of data fields within the collections to clarify HESA's expectations about how these fields should be treated in light of the pandemic.

The 2019/20 academic year saw the implementation of Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) and the Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH). The HECoS classification replaces JACS, used in previous years, with CAH serving as a means to connect HECoS and JACS. For more information, refer to HESA's webpage on HECoS and CAH. This release uses CAH v1.3.4. HESA have decided not to utilise CAH v1.3.4 for time series analysis following investigations of the quality characteristics of CAH. More information can be found in the notes to our Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2021/22 statistical bulletin.

Tables based on subjects coded according to the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS) for years 2014/15 - 2018/19 are still available, please refer to the contents page to see these tables.

Some information on this page is taken from our Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2021/22 statistical bulletin.

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.

MBA students

This table shows the number of students studying for a Masters of Business Administration qualification. These courses usually last one year and are often popular with international students.

Chart 8 - MBA students by domicile 2014/15 to 2021/22

Academic years 2014/15 to 2021/22


Sandwich courses

Students on a sandwich course are expected to take six months or more out of their course to undertake work experience or study abroad. This table shows the total numbers of students on undergraduate sandwich courses (not the number who were actually away from the HE provider during the academic year in question).

Table 48 - Undergraduate sandwich student enrolments by subject of study and sex

Academic years 2019/20 to 2021/22


Initial teacher training (ITT)

This table shows students on courses leading to teaching qualifications.

Table 20 - ITT students by HE provider and level of study

Academic years 2014/15 to 2021/22


Initial Teacher Training students are studying Education with the view to become a qualified teacher.

Go to What qualifications do HE students achieve?: Detailed breakdown for ITT qualifications awarded

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What do HE students study?
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