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Trends in HE qualifications: 745,000 HE qualifications awarded in 2014/15

HESA publication 'Students in Higher Education 2014/15' released today

Data published today show that 745,005 higher education qualifications were awarded by UK HE providers in 2014/15. This is 4% fewer than were awarded in 2013/14. While 6% fewer first degrees were awarded than in the previous year, the number of postgraduate qualifications rose by 1%. The number of other undergraduate qualifications awarded, such as diplomas and certificates of HE fell by 10%, continuing a four year downward trend. 

10 year trends

The graph below shows the trends in HE qualifications awarded. The fall in first degrees awarded in 2014/15 reflects the dip in new entrants in 2012/13 when the £9,000 tuition fee cap was introduced in England. This dip followed a peak in entrant numbers in 2011/12 before the new fee cap was introduced. The overall number of 395,580 first degrees has grown by a quarter (25%) in the ten years from 2005/06.

The total number of postgraduate qualifications has remained relatively stable at around 260,000 for the last four years, but has grown by 32% over the last ten years. Meanwhile the number of other undergraduate qualifications fell for the fourth year in a row in 2014/15 resulting in a 31% decline over ten years.

HE qualifications awarded at UK HE providers by level 2005/06 to 2014/15

Background data can be found in our free online tables.

Qualifiers in 2014/15

The chart below represents the numbers and proportion of qualifiers by sex and domicile. In 2014/15 57% of postgraduate and first degree qualifiers, and 58% of other undergraduate qualifiers were women.

47% of postgraduate qualifications were awarded to non-UK domicile students. This proportion was much lower for first degrees (17%) and other undergraduate qualifications (10%).

Proportion of HE qualifications awarded at UK HE providers in 2014/15 by level of qualification, sex and domicile

Background data can be found in our free online tables.


Selected tables from today's publication, including more detailed data on qualifications awarded in 2014/15 and earlier years, can be found in our free online data pages. Further tables and graphs can be found via the publication's introduction.

Students in Higher Education 2014/15 is a downloadable publication which includes comprehensive data on students and qualifiers broken down by demographic and course characteristics, as well as data from the HESA Aggregate Offshore Record. Students in Higher Education 2014/15 is available to purchase now from here.

The next scheduled release from HESA will be the publication of Staff in Higher Education 2014/15 on 25 February. A schedule of our releases for 2016 can be found here.

Notes for Editors

  1. Press enquiries should be directed to:
    • Simon Kemp
    • HESA Press Officer
    • 01242 211120
    • [email protected]
    • 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ.
  2. In the above data all numbers are rounded to the nearest multiple of 5.
  3. HESA student data is collected from all publicly funded higher education providers in the UK, plus the University of Buckingham, which is a privately funded HE provider. The 2014/15 data covers 162 HE providers (131 in England, 9 in Wales, 18 in Scotland and 4 in Northern Ireland).
  4. HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
  5. More data on HE qualifications awarded can be found in Statistical First Release 224, our free online data pages and the publication introduction.
  6. Definitions of the terms used in this press release can be found here.
  7. Data intelligence notes can be found here.

About HESA

HESA is the recognised source of data on higher education in the UK. Our experts collect, analyse, and disseminate accurate and comprehensive statistical information on all aspects of UK higher education in order to support the strategic aims of our users and enhance the effectiveness of the sector as a whole. We are a charity and a company limited by guarantee. We operate as an independent organisation, working in close partnership with higher education providers, regulators, funders, government departments, policy makers, and other stakeholders.

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