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

Statistical First Release SFR247

HESA has made changes to the navigation and interactivity of this SFR to improve the user experience.  We would welcome your feedback and comments so we can continue to make the SFR even more accessible and useful.

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Who produced this Statistical First Release?

This SFR has been produced by HESA in collaboration with statisticians from the Department for Education, the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland. It has been released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Which HE providers are included?

As with previous years, this release contains information regarding only UK publicly funded higher education institutions plus one alternative provider, The University of Buckingham. In addition, and for the first time, this SFR includes 2016/17 data for students enrolled on HE level courses at further education (FE) colleges in Wales (of which there are 1,400 students registered at 3 FE colleges). All are fully subscribed members of HESA who supply the complete Student Record. This release excludes HE provision at FE colleges in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and also excludes other alternative providers in the sector. Information for the alternative providers, and summary information on the totality of HE provision will be released in February 2018.

Has data for earlier years been revised?

As in the 2015/16 SFR, this release uses revised data returns (the 'fixed' database) for the time series figures. The fixed data return facility provides HE providers with the opportunity to make post-collection amendments to their HESA return. The fixed database remains open for between 6 and 15 months following the closure of the corresponding live data collection and usually becomes available at least 18 months after the original dataset is delivered. Before 2014/15 fixed data was not used in SFRs. For 2014/15 onwards, any time series within the SFR tables does, and will continue to make use of the most up to date fixed datasets available. Please refer to the versioning information in the definitions for detail as to which versions have been used to produce this release and the impact of these changes.


How have the figures in the text been calculated?

Figures quoted throughout this SFR have been derived from the figures in the tables. Comparisons with previous year's data have only been included where they can be derived from these tables.


How to use the tables

The tables within this SFR are interactive. There are options immediately above the table to filter by particular data field(s) such as by first year marker or mode of study. The tables react to whichever option is chosen, changing the data accordingly. 

In the tables, 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%.

How can I get the data in a spreadsheet?

All the data is presented in interactive tables on the HESA website and will not be published in Excel spreadsheets. Below each table you will find a link to download the table as a *.csv.

If you are planning to open the *.csv files in Excel, you must ensure you import the *.csv data, rather than just opening the file directly. This will ensure the data is presented appropriately without corrupt characters appearing. We have published instructions on how to import *.csv files in earlier versions of Excel. If you are using Excel 2016, you should select 'Data' in the top ribbon and then choose 'From Text/csv'. In the options screen, select '65001: Unicode (UTF-8)' in the 'File Origin' box; click 'Edit' and ensure that all columns are formatted as 'Text'.

How to use the charts

Some of the charts within this SFR are interactive. Those that are have an option immediately above the chart to filter by particular data field(s) such as by first year marker or mode of study. The charts react to whichever option is chosen, changing the data accordingly. The title of the chart also changes to describe exactly what data is displayed. 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%.

How to print this release

This SFR is designed primarily for on screen users. Each section of the SFR can be printed by hitting control - P from within a section. Please note that the print version of the SFR excludes all tables, although table titles will be visible.

How are Open University students counted?

As in the 2015/16 SFR, enrolments and qualifications registered at one of The Open University's (OU) national centres in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will contribute to the totals of those countries where statistics are shown by country of HE provider. Please note that all non-UK domiciled OU students, those who study at postgraduate research level, and students returned in the Aggregate offshore record, are registered to the OU administrative centre in England. 


National Statistics

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

  • Meet identified user needs
  • Are well explained and readily accessible
  • Are produced according to sound methods, and
  • Are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

Where can I find more detail on students in higher education?

Our Students in Higher Education 2016/17 publication providing more detailed information about students in higher education in the UK will be published by HESA in February 2018.


The data presented in this SFR is based on the 2016/17 HESA Student and Aggregate offshore records. The statistics in this SFR are derived by HESA from data collected from all publicly funded HE providers in the UK (including The Open University), plus the University of Buckingham, which is privately funded and further education colleges in Wales. The figures therefore exclude HE enrolments and qualifications obtained by students registered at any other UK further education colleges and at other private and independent UK HE colleges.

Student enrolments and qualifications data was prepared in December 2017 using the following versions of the datasets:

  • 2007/08 Fixed dataset, July 2010 version
  • 2008/09 Fixed dataset, November 2011 version
  • 2009/10 Fixed dataset, September 2012 version
  • 2010/11 Fixed dataset, August 2013 version
  • 2011/12 Fixed dataset, September 2014 version
  • 2012/13 Fixed dataset, September 2016 version
  • 2013/14 Original dataset, February 2015 version
  • 2014/15 Original dataset, May 2016 version
  • 2015/16 Original dataset, November 2016 version
  • 2016/17 Original dataset, November 2017 version


Student enrolments and qualifications definitions

For data intelligence, please see the following web page.

Aggregate offshore definitions

For data intelligence, please see the following web page.


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 Rebecca Mantle, Information Services Manager, HESA (at the same address), +44 (0)1242 211133, [email protected].



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


Children, education and skills

Issued by

HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ

Press enquiries

01242 211120

Public enquiries

01242 211133


Rebecca Mantle


[email protected]

Department for Education

Welsh Government logo

Scottish Government logo

Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland)