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Higher Education Student Data - new open data release

HESA data for 2016/17 reveals the highest ever number of students starting postgraduate courses at UK higher education providers.

There were 344,325 first year postgraduate students in 2016/17, an increase of 8% on the previous year. Two-fifths (39%) of these postgraduate entrants were non-UK domicile students, three-fifths (59%) were female, and one-third (33%) were studying part-time.

These statistics come from HESA’s new Higher Education Student Data open data release. For the first time, detailed extracts from HESA’s student data collection are available for free under a Creative Commons licence. Formerly published as 65 Excel tables, the new release condenses the same data and more into 24 new interactive online tables. Every available cross-tabulation can then be downloaded in machine-readable format for onward use.

The release presents data and statistics according to five key topics:  

Other key stats drawn from today’s release include:

  • 57% of all undergraduate students in 2016/17 were female, but only 43% of sandwich students were female.
  • 12% of students in 2016/17 were known to have a disability.
  • The subject area with the highest number of students was business & administrative studies, accounting for 1 in 7 students.
  • Fewer than 1 in 5 computer science and engineering & technology students are female.
  • One-fifth of non-UK domiciled students come from China.
  • 66% of research doctorates are awarded in science subjects.

Today’s release is part of HESA’s open data strategy, informed by public consultation in Summer 2016, which sets out the timetable for releasing HESA outputs as open data.

Tables from January’s Statistical First Release and the recent Performance Indicators are incorporated into the new web pages as HESA works towards providing a single point of access to all its student data resources. The new release also incorporates all the student data and statistics previously published in Higher Education Statistics for the UK.

Previous years’ editions of the Students in Higher Education publication have been made available to download for free.

Paul Clark, Chief Executive of HESA said:

"I’m delighted that this major release of official higher education data has been made available as open data for the first time. Our aim is to publish as many of HESA’s data releases as possible as open data by 2021. This aim received wide support in our 2016 consultation and today’s release is an important milestone for this strand of HESA’s work. A principle of open data is to allow and encourage re-use of data, and I look forward to seeing how users take advantage of this new opportunity.”



About HESA

HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency Ltd) is the recognised source of data on higher education in the UK. Its experts collect, analyse, and disseminate accurate and comprehensive statistical information on all aspects of UK higher education to support the strategic aims of its users and enhance the effectiveness of the sector as a whole. It is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. It operates as an independent organisation, working in collaboration with higher education providers, regulators, funders, government departments, policy makers, and other stakeholders.

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