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Higher Education Staff Statistics: UK 2020/21 released

The first release of HESA staff data for the 2020/21 academic year reveals the demographic make-up of staff in UK higher education, and the details of their employment contracts.

The data released today relates to staff employed on 1 December 2020 in the academic year running from 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021. This was the first full academic year to be affected by the Covid pandemic.

Headline statistics from today’s Statistical Bulletin include:

  • There were 224,530 academic staff employed at higher education providers on 1 December 2020 excluding atypical1 staff. This is a rise of less than 1% on last year’s figure.
  • Out of 22,855 Professors2, 6,510 (28%) were women. This proportion is the same as last year.
  • 160 Professors2 (1%) were Black, 7% were Asian and 89% were White3.
  • 17% of academic staff were EU nationals and 15% of academic staff were non-UK nationals from non-EU countries3.
  • 32% of academic staff were employed on fixed-term contracts.
  • 2% of academic staff were employed on zero hours contracts (excluding atypical1 staff).

For more detail on all of these headlines, please see today’s Statistical Bulletin Higher Education Staff Statistics: UK, 2020/21. The bulletin is an Official Statistics release published as open data which includes interactive tables of demographic and contract statistics. The release includes data from HE providers across the UK. From 2019/20 it is not mandatory for HE providers in England and Northern Ireland to return information about non-academic staff.

A further open data publication, Higher Education Staff Data, will be released later in February. This will include more detailed breakdowns from the 2020/21 HESA Staff record.

If you have comments or suggestions about today’s release please give feedback via the form in the bulletin.


  1. Headline statistics in this press release exclude ‘atypical’ staff. Atypical contracts are generally non-permanent contracts for short, one-off, or as-and-when tasks. Atypical staff figures are counted differently and shown separately and should not be added to non-atypical figures. See the Terms of employment definition for more detail.
  2. Professors are defined as “Senior Academic appointments which may carry the title of Professor but which do not have departmental line management responsibilities”. Other senior contracts including leadership and management roles may also be held by people who hold the Professor title. See the Contract levels definition for more detail. 
  3. Percentages exclude unknown values.
  4. See Definitions: Staff for definitions of terms used in the release and explanation of the coverage of statistics.
  5. See Upcoming data releases for a schedule of Official Statistics releases from HESA.
  6. HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
Press Release

Press Officer