Higher education undergraduate student enrolments and qualifications obtained at alternative providers in England 2015/16
Alternative providers (APs) are higher education providers who do not receive recurrent funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) or other public bodies and who are not further education colleges. Eligible students can access loans and grants from the Student Loans Company (SLC) on specific courses, referred to as designated courses.
This Statistical First Release (SFR) provides details of undergraduate student enrolments and qualifications obtained at APs in England that have successfully completed the designation process (with some exceptions - see the Notes) for the academic year 2015/16.
Key points - undergraduate enrolments on designated courses
- There were 52,675 undergraduate higher education (HE) enrolments on designated courses at APs in the 2015/16 record.
- 45,590 of these enrolments were full-time compared to 7,085 that were part-time.
- 60% of students were enrolled on first degree courses, 30% on HND/HNCs, 8% on other undergraduate courses, and 1% on foundation degrees.
- The majority of these undergraduates, 88%, were UK domiciled. Chart 1 shows that a higher proportion of part-time students were UK domiciled than full-time students.
- For each type of domicile, most of the students were enrolled on first degrees at APs (UK domiciled 56%, other EU 88% and non-EU 87%).
[Reference Table 1 and Chart 1]
Key points - first year undergraduate enrolments on designated courses
- There were 26,145 first year undergraduate HE enrolments on designated courses at APs in the 2015/16 record.
- 22,915 of these enrolments were full-time compared to 3,230 part-time.
- 54% of students were enrolled on first degree courses, 33% on HND/HNCs, 12% on other undergraduate courses, and 2% of students were on foundation degrees.
- The majority of first year undergraduates at APs, 90%, were UK domiciled.
[Reference Table 2]
Key points - subject of study and demographics of undergraduate enrolments on designated courses
- Most students were enrolled on Business and administrative studies, 48%, followed by Creative arts & design, 20%. This was true of full-time and part-time enrolments. 10% of students were enrolled within Science subject areas.
- The proportions of males and females differed by subject area. 80% of Computer science and 88% of Engineering and technology students were male, whereas 79% of Social studies and 78% of Subjects allied to medicine students were female.
- 48% of first year undergraduate students were studying Business and administrative studies, followed by 18% studying Creative arts & design and 11% studying Law.
- Table 6 and Table 7 include data on sex, age, disability and ethnicity of full-time and part-time undergraduate enrolments on designated courses. Note that in the following comparisons, the figures for publicly funded HE providers in England includes data from The University of Buckingham (see Notes below).
- The gender split for full-time enrolments was 49% female and 51% male; for part-time enrolments, it was 56% female and 43% male. In comparison, 55% of full-time enrolments and 61% of part-time enrolments were female at publicly funded HE providers in England in 2015/16.
- 39% of full-time enrolments were aged 30 and over compared to 58% of part-time enrolments at APs. 26% of full-time enrolments were aged 20 and under compared to 6% of part-time enrolments at APs. The age profile of full-time students at APs differed to those at publicly funded HE providers in England; at the latter, only 6% of full-time students were aged 30 and over and 63% were 20 and under. The age profile of part-time students at publicly funded HE providers was more similar to that at APs, with 55% aged 30 and over and only 9% aged 20 and under.
- The age profile of students also differed by subject area of study at APs. 74% of full-time students studying Subjects allied to medicine and 72% of full-time students studying Education were aged 30 and over. 61% of full-time students studying Creative arts and design and 51% of full-time students studying Biological sciences were 20 and under.
- 8% of full-time enrolments had a known disability compared to 12% of part-time enrolments. This compares to the slightly higher figures of 12% of full-time enrolments and 13% of part-time enrolments at publicly funded HE providers in England who were known to have a disability.
- Of the UK domiciled undergraduate students with known ethnicity, 44% of full-time students were White compared to 56% BME (Black and Minority Ethnic). For part-time students, 76% were White compared to 24% BME. By contrast, there were higher proportions of White undergraduate students enrolled at publicly funded HE providers in England, making up 73% of full-time and 82% of part-time enrolments.
- Subject of study varied by ethnicity for full-time UK domiciled undergraduate enrolments on designated courses at APs. Amongst White students 32% were studying Business & administrative studies whereas amongst BME students this was 67%. 37% of White students were studying Creative arts & design compared to 5% of BME students.
Key points - undergraduate qualifications obtained on designated courses
- In 2015/16, there were 13,820 undergraduate qualifications obtained on designated courses. Of these, 45% were first degree, 31% were HND/HNC, 23% were other undergraduate and 1% were foundation degree [Reference Table 8].
- Of those gaining a classified first degree, the proportion who obtained a first or upper second was 58%. 14% gained a first class degree compared to 44% who gained an upper second class degree.
- Of those first degree qualifications obtained by females in 2015/16, 63% were at first or upper second class level in comparison to 54% of first degree qualifications obtained by males [Reference Table 9 and Chart 3].
- 45% of qualifications obtained were in the subject area Business and administrative studies, followed by 20% in Creative arts & design. 8% of qualifications obtained were in Science subject areas [Reference Table 10].
None of the tables presented should be interpreted without reference to the Notes and Definitions provided below.
Who produced this Statistical First Release?
This SFR has been produced by HESA in collaboration with statisticians from the Department of Education and with support from analysts from HEFCE.
What is an Alternative provider and what is a designated course?
Alternative providers (APs) are higher education providers who do not receive recurrent funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) or other public bodies and who are not further education colleges. There are a substantial number of APs, but only those who have successfully completed the designation process are required to submit data to us (except those who only have postgraduate courses designated for disabled students' allowances (DSA) only). This designation process means eligible students can access loans and grants from the Student Loans Company (SLC) on specific courses, referred to as designated courses.
How do enrolments at APs compare to enrolments elsewhere in the sector?
The table below shows the number of undergraduate enrolments at publicly funded providers (and in addition The University of Buckingham), further education (FE) colleges and APs.
|Undergraduate student enrolments in England||2015/16|
|Publicly funded providers (and in addition The University of Buckingham)||1,420,960|
|Alternative providers (designated courses)||52,675|
|Alternative providers (non-designated courses at providers who have successfully undergone the designation process)||580|
Given that the vast majority of students at these APs are on designated courses, this SFR has focused on undergraduate enrolments on these courses, with the exception of Table 3 which shows undergraduate AP student enrolments by Alternative provider, designation marker, mode of study and domicile.
What is the coverage of the HESA AP student record 2015/16?
APs who offered postgraduate initial teacher training (ITT) or undergraduate designated courses in England were required to report all students on these courses, subject to the exceptions below. This was irrespective of whether the student was in receipt of SLC funding. A change for 2015/16 meant that it was also compulsory for these APs to return information about students enrolled on most non-designated undergraduate courses and postgraduate ITT courses. The coverage does not include APs who offer exclusively non-designated courses. Please note, West London College (10000939) were required to return data to the 2015/16 AP student record but did not submit this in time for inclusion in the SFR to HESA.
Exclusions to the coverage above:
Students studying wholly outside of the UK for the duration of their programme.
Students expected to spend less than eight consecutive course weeks in the UK during their entire programme. Note that students on non-designated courses are only required to be returned where the majority of time (50% or more) of their study will be in the UK.
All postgraduate courses, including those designated for DSA only and graduate entry programmes (including stand-alone Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) part 2), with the exception of integrated postgraduate/undergraduate provision, as well as the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education, which are initial teacher training qualifications within the remit of the AP student collection.
Students who leave a course within two weeks of the commencement date, unless the student has applied for a loan with the SLC and the attendance has been confirmed.
Non-designated courses that are not open to any suitably qualified candidate and will typically be courses offered only to employees of particular organisations (closed courses).
Non-designated intercalated degrees.
Students on non-designated courses that are run in the UK but only for international and/or EU students.
Students on non-designated courses where the total FTE of the course is less than one year when studied full-time (i.e. 120 credits or less for its entirety).
Though APs offer more flexible provision in terms of commencement dates of courses, the AP student record was collected based on the HESA reporting period. This ensures consistency across the data collected. The 2015/16 AP student record was collected in respect of activity which took place between 1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016.
Please note students on courses that lost designation during the academic year will be shown as on a non-designated course.
How has the AP constituency changed since last year?
The HESA AP student record 2015/16 has collected data from 97 providers, an increase on the 63 providers in 2014/15. The increase in the number of providers is due to a policy decision requiring all APs with postgraduate ITT or undergraduate designated courses in England to submit data to HESA from 2015/16, whereas in 2014/15 some small providers and solely part-time or distance learning providers were not required to. This means that we have collected data from all providers who offered postgraduate ITT courses and undergraduate courses in that academic year whose new students could have access to student support.
Exclusions to the AP SFR
For 2015/16, the coverage of the HESA AP student record widened to make it compulsory for APs who offered postgraduate ITT or undergraduate designated courses in England to also return data about most students on non-designated courses (exceptions listed in the coverage above) in order for the data to be published on the Unistats website. The students enrolled on non-designated undergraduate courses in the coverage was small in comparison to the students enrolled on designated courses, with 580 undergraduate students enrolled on non-designated courses compared to 52,675 students enrolled on designated courses. The AP SFR reports on undergraduate student enrolments on designated courses, except for Table 3 which shows undergraduate AP student enrolments by alternative provider, designation marker, mode of study and domicile.
Due to the coverage of the AP student record, the only postgraduate provision that is required to be returned to HESA is postgraduate ITT. For 2015/16 there were 0 students on designated postgraduate ITT courses and 20 on non-designated postgraduate ITT courses. Information about postgraduate ITT students has not been included in the tables.
Why is this publication "Experimental Statistics"?
The Code of Practice for Official Statistics defines Experimental Statistics as: "new official statistics undergoing evaluation. They are published in order to involve users and stakeholders in their development and as a means to build in quality at an early stage".
This is the second year that the AP student record data has been collected and over a third of providers required to submit data to us were doing so for the first time. We are continuing to explore and understand the quality of the data that has been returned and the data will be continually evaluated for its stability, reliability and completion over the forthcoming annual collections. The AP SFR has been published as we realise that there is great interest in HE that is delivered outside publicly funded providers and further education colleges. We welcome feedback on the content, structure and usefulness of the statistics presented in the AP SFR; please email any comments or suggestions to Emma Jones.
Why is there no time series in this SFR?
Due to 37 new providers submitting data for 2015/16, time series analysis at a sector level has not been included in the SFR as it was expected there would be an increase in the number of student enrolments and qualifications reported. Please note any differences in proportions at a sector level between 2014/15 and 2015/16 may be genuine changes rather than due to a change in the number of providers.
Three providers who returned data in the 2014/15 AP student record did not return data in the 2015/16 AP student record. Please see Provider merger and changes for more information.
Why should care be taken when making comparisons to the HESA Student record 2015/16 which reports enrolments and qualifications obtained at publicly funded providers?
The 2015/16 AP student record reports students who are enrolled on postgraduate ITT and undergraduate designated and non-designated courses in England, whereas all publicly funded providers in the UK return data in the HESA Student record for all HE levels of study.
Please note that The University of Buckingham is an AP, but has submitted data through the HESA Student record since 2004/05 and has been reported on in the Statistical First Release 242 - Student Enrolments and Qualifications, released in January 2017; consequently The University of Buckingham is omitted in the AP SFR. Care must be taken when making comparisons between the APs in the AP SFR and The University of Buckingham due to coverage differences between the records.
What will change for next year?
APs with degree awarding powers will be required to return data about students who follow full-time and part-time taught Masters programs.
The number of providers who submit to the record will change if their designation status changes during the reporting period.
How to use the charts
To aid interpretation of the charts, it is possible to hover over any of the given data points to read exact figures. To see all the data behind a chart, there is an option just below each chart to ‘Get the data’. All the figures used within that chart can be displayed in either csv or html format.
In the data behind the charts, 0, 1, 2 are rounded to 0. All other numbers are rounded up or down to the nearest multiple of 5. Percentages are calculated on unrounded data and are rounded to the nearest whole number. This means percentages may not sum exactly to 100%.
The data presented in this SFR is based on the 2015/16 HESA AP student record. The statistics in this SFR are derived by HESA from data collected from the APs in England who were required to submit data to HESA for the purpose of course designation and for the purpose of Unistats. Please note that The University of Buckingham is an AP but returns data through the HESA Student record and is omitted in this SFR.
AP student enrolments and qualifications data was prepared in January 2017 using the following version of the dataset: 2015/16 Original dataset, December 2016 version.
Please note that when calculating percentages using sex, the total number of male, female and other are used in the denominator. Therefore, percentage comparisons of males and females may not sum to 100%.
Student enrolments and qualifications definitions:
- Course designation
- Alternative provider
- Standard registration population
- Qualifications obtained population
- Rounding strategy
- Class of first degree
- Disability status
- HE provider identifiers
- Level of study/Qualification obtained
- Mode of study/qualification
- Subject of study
- Year of study/ first year marker
For data intelligence, please see the following webpage.
HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
Press enquiries should be directed to the Press Office at HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ, +44 (0)1242 211120, [email protected]. General enquiries about the data contained within this SFR should be addressed to [email protected], +44 (0)1242 211133.
8 February 2017, 9:30
Children, education and skills
HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ