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Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2016/17 - Summary

Statistical First Release SFR247


Figure 1 - First year HE student enrolments by level of study

2007/08 to 2016/17



  • The number of first year students undertaking postgraduate taught courses in 2016/17 was at its highest point in ten years, coinciding with the introduction of postgraduate loans for those students from England studying a master's course.
  • Since the changes in tuition fee arrangements in 2012/13, there has been an upward trend in the number of first year students taking first degrees.
  • Other undergraduate first year student numbers have continued to decline since 2008/09. Some of this drop may be explained by:
    • the change in tuition fee arrangements in 2012/13;
    • providers reclassifying their nursing courses from a diploma of HE to first degree from 2011/12; and
    • a drop in the number of employers paying for staff to undertake CPD courses since the downturn in the economy.

Figure 2 - HE qualifications obtained by level of qualification

2007/08 to 2016/17

  • The number of first degree qualifications obtained has increased each year, with the exception of 2014/15 which is likely to be related to the drop in first year students in 2012/13.
  • The number of other undergraduate qualifications continues to decline in line with the decline in first year student numbers.


This Statistical First Release (SFR) is the annual first release of HESA student data. In previous years it has been titled "Higher education student enrolments and qualifications obtained at higher education providers in the United Kingdom". This release focuses on all publicly funded UK HE providers and the University of Buckingham. It also includes, for 2016/17, all HE students registered at further education (FE) colleges in Wales (of which there were 1,400 students). All are fully subscribed members of HESA who supply the complete Student Record. Summary information on HE students at FE colleges in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be reported on separately, alongside headline figures from this release and student numbers at alternative providers to illustrate the totality of higher education provision. This information will be published as part of the Higher Education Student Statistics: Alternative Providers 2016/17 release in February 2018.

This SFR also includes information from the HESA Aggregate offshore record (see figure 12). This record captures students studying wholly outside the UK who are either registered with the reporting HE provider or who are studying for an award of the reporting HE provider.

Readers should be aware that data definitions sometimes change over time. This, and coverage changes can affect the validity of time series comparisons. Any significant changes have been explained in the definitions.

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National Statistic


11 January 2018, 9:30



Release frequency

Annual - view all releases (1998/99 - onwards)

Pre-release access

View pre-release access list for this release


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