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Who's studying in HE?: Student numbers

HE Student Data Who's studying in HE?

On this page: Undergraduate sandwich students | Students on teacher training courses | Students by full-time equivalent (FTE)

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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.

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.

Undergraduate sandwich students

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


Table 12 provides data on undergraduate sandwich students by subject for years 2014/15 - 2018/19. This is based on subjects coded according to the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS). Table 48 replaces Table 12 from 2019/20, following the introduction of HECoS and CAH in the same year. Refer to the contents page to see other tables containing JACS data.

Students on teacher training courses

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 2019/20


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Students by full-time equivalent (FTE)

Full-time equivalent (FTE) figures give a picture of the overall student load. For example a student on a part-time course that is 60% of a full-time course would be returned as 0.6 FTE.

Table 2 - HE student enrolment FTE by HE provider and level of study

Academic years 2014/15 to 2019/20


Note that cost centre information is not available for the HESA Student alternative record, so the table below is restricted to providers who submitted to the HESA Student record only.

Table 37 - HE student enrolment FTE by HE provider and cost centre

Academic years 2014/15 to 2019/20


 This is a large table and will take a moment to load...
open-data   Open data licence: CC-BY-4.0

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