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Who's studying in HE?: Personal characteristics

HE Student Data Who's studying in HE?

On this page: Breakdown by sex | Personal characteristics by HE provider and by subject of study | Detailed disability and ethnicity breakdowns

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Important - Changes to student data for 2019/20
Changes to data coverage mean that the latest student data differs from previously published data. Expand this box for more information.

Student data published by HESA prior to 2021 related mainly to data about all publicly funded HE providers in the UK (and the University of Buckingham) and HE level provision at further education (FE) colleges in Wales. This equated to all providers submitting data to the HESA Student record. This year we are combining data from both the HESA Student record and the HESA Student alternative record to provide a more complete picture of higher education within the UK. This means that the tables and charts within this release include data about:

  • Higher education (HE) providers in England registered with the Office for Students (OfS) in the Approved (fee cap) or Approved categories;
  • Publicly funded HE providers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; and
  • Further education (FE) colleges in Wales.

For users wishing to undertake time-series analysis that make use of data drawn exclusively from the HESA Student record (and therefore comparable with the coverage of tables and charts previously published) this release additionally offers the option to download the source data for each table and chart based on that record alone. This can be done by clicking the link to 'Download source data 051 record only (csv)' underneath each table and chart. Please note that there have been coverage changes over time to both the Student and Student alternative record which can affect the validity of time series comparisons. Any significant changes have been explained in the definitions.

Impact of COVID-19 on student data
There are known areas in which the pandemic has had some impact on the 2019/20 Student data. Expand this box for more information.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020 part way through the 2019/20 academic year. The pandemic did not have any notable impact on student enrolment figures for 2019/20, but did have an impact on qualifications awarded.

Administrative delays related to the pandemic at a few providers meant that significant numbers of qualifications were not reported during the data collection process. The impact can be seen in the decrease in the number of qualifications achieved in 2019/20 compared with 2018/19, particularly among part-time students. These qualifications are expected to be reported to HESA in the 2020/21 data collection.

Many providers issued public statements that a ‘no detriment’ approach to assessment would be adopted in response to the pandemic. This typically ensured that students would be awarded a final grade no lower than the most recent provider assessment of their attainment. The impact can be seen in the increase in the proportion of first class degrees awarded in 2019/20 compared with 2018/19.

Breakdown by sex

Key fact: In 2019/20, 57% of students were female.

Chart 3 - HE Students by sex

Academic years 2014/15 to 2019/20

 
 
 
 

Personal characteristics by HE provider

Key fact: 15% of students in 2019/20 were known to have a disability. This has increased in recent years largely due to students reporting mental health conditions or a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or AD(H)D.

Show:

Table 3 - HE student enrolments by HE provider and age group

Academic years 2014/15 to 2019/20

 
 
 
 
 

Table 4 - HE student enrolments by HE provider and disability marker

Academic years 2014/15 to 2019/20

 
 
 
 
 

Table 5 - UK domiciled HE student enrolments by HE provider and ethnicity marker

Academic years 2014/15 to 2019/20

 
 
 
 
 

Personal characteristics by subject of study

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. HESA have decided not to utilise CAH v1.2 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, 2019/20 statistical bulletin.

Show:

Table 43 - HE student enrolments by subject of study and age group

Academic year 2019/20

 
 
 
 
 
 

Table 44 - HE student enrolments by subject of study and disability marker

Academic year 2019/20

 
 
 
 
 
 

Table 45 - UK domiciled HE student enrolments by subject of study and ethnicity

Academic years 2019/20

 
 
 
 
 
 
Where can I find historic data about what subjects students study by their personal characteristics?

Tables 6, 7 and 8 provide data on subjects students study by their personal characteristics for years 2014/15 - 2018/19. This is based on subjects coded according to the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS). Tables 43, 44 and 45 replace Tables 6, 7 and 8 respectively from 2019/20, following the introduction of HECoS and CAH in the same year. Refer to the contents page to see these and other tables containing JACS data.

See What do they study? for more detailed information on HE courses

See What are HE students' progression rates and qualifications? for equivalent data on qualifiers from HE providers

Detailed disability and ethnicity breakdowns

Show:

Table 14 - UK domiciled student enrolments by ethnicity and sex

Academic years 2014/15 to 2019/20

 
 
 
 
 

Table 15 - UK domiciled student enrolments by disability and sex

Academic years 2014/15 to 2019/20

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Table 53 - UK domiciled undergraduate students of known ethnicity by CAH level 1 subject and ethnicity

Academic years 2019/20

 
 

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