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Higher Education Student Data 2019/20

Detailed open data released by HESA reveals that over a quarter of UK domicile students in higher education are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds but at higher levels of postgraduate study this falls to below one fifth.

The data released today relates to students enrolled between 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2020 including the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2019/20 release includes data from English HE providers registered as either Approved (fee cap) or Approved with the Office for Students.4

View Higher Education Student Data

UK students from ethnic minorities made up 27% of all students studying for a first degree in 2019/20. Among students studying for a postgraduate taught qualification (such as a Masters) this proportion was 24% and for postgraduate research qualifications (such as a PhD) the figure was 19%.1

6% of all students were from a Black African background, but this group represented only 3% of postgraduate research students. Students from an Asian Pakistani background were also less represented among postgraduate research students (2%) compared to representing 4% of all students. 1

17% of UK domicile students reported having a disability, including 5% who reported a mental health condition. Within these statistics there was also a difference at different levels of study, with 18% of first degree students reporting a disability compared to 15% of postgraduate taught students.2

HESA’s release includes new tables showing breakdowns by subject of study based on the new Higher Education Coding of Subjects (HECoS) and the Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH) subject groups.

41% of UK domicile students studying medicine and dentistry subjects were from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds compared to only 6% in the veterinary science and agriculture, food and related studies groups.3

The new subject grouping disaggregates psychology from biological sciences which was previously one of the largest subject areas. The new CAH level 1 statistic shows that 5% of all students were studying psychology, and that 81% of psychology students were female.3

The subject groups with the most students in 2019/20 were business and management with 412,815 students (52% male) and subjects allied to medicine with 295,520 students (79% female).3

Today’s open data Official Statistics release Higher Education Student Data includes detailed breakdowns of student data in five topics:

Most data tables include six years of data, with older data available through HESA’s publication archive.

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


  1. See Table 14
  2. See Table 15
  3. See What do HE students study?
  4. HESA also collects data from a small number of English providers each year who are designated by the Department for Education as either ‘Designation for Teach Out’ or ‘Limited Designation’. See Specific course designation: alternative higher education providers
  5. See Definitions: Students for definitions of terms used in the release and explanation of the coverage of statistics.
  6. See Upcoming data releases for a schedule of Official Statistics releases from HESA, including Statistical Bulletins, Performance Indicators and full open data releases.
  7. HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
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