Skip to main content

Demand grows for Biology, Business and Maths degrees

HESA publication 'Students in Higher Education 2013/14' released today.

Data published today show that 521,990 students started first degree courses at UK HE providers in 2013/14. This is 5% higher than in 2012/13, but still 5% lower than in 2011/12 - the last year before the £9,000 fee cap was introduced. 15% of students starting degrees in 2013/14 were in the Business and administrative studies subject area.

7 year trends

The graphs and table below show the trends in first year first degree students by subject area. 2007/08 was the first year of the JACS2 subject coding system which is comparable with the current JACS3 system introduced in 2012/13.

First year first degree students by subject area 2007/08 to 2013/14

Subjects allied to medicine and biological sciences saw the highest percentage growth in entrants over the seven years of the time series. The Combined subject area saw the largest percentage drop. The Combined subject area predominantly includes part-time Open University students who commence their degree courses without choosing a specific subject of study. Part-time entrant numbers experienced a significant drop in numbers following the changes to the funding system from 2012/13 (see Statistical First Release 210).

% change in first year first degree students by subject areas 2007/08 to 2013/14

First year first degree enrolments by subject area 2007/08 to 2013/14
Subject area 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 7 year % change
(1) Medicine & dentistry 9695 9835 9925 9975 10105 9565 9375 -3%
(2) Subjects allied to medicine 39130 41895 45010 46060 53575 52135 54360 39%
(3) Biological sciences 45255 48490 52150 53850 56650 52355 58870 30%
(4) Veterinary science 970 950 980 1010 1055 1055 1055 9%
(5) Agriculture & related subjects 2710 2860 3075 3320 3635 2900 3230 19%
(6) Physical sciences 19515 21060 22195 21950 23155 21145 22730 16%
(7) Mathematical sciences 9070 10340 11235 11155 11835 10770 11275 24%
(8) Computer science 21300 22900 24655 24965 24740 22330 25290 19%
(9) Engineering & technology 30155 32875 35220 34815 36305 32370 34725 15%
(A) Architecture, building & planning 12580 13295 12930 11895 11640 9925 9900 -21%
(B) Social studies 44680 48235 49550 50050 52390 48070 50965 14%
(C) Law 22130 23850 23585 22915 23670 22315 23710 7%
(D) Business & administrative studies 62935 70025 74100 75010 81315 73330 78240 24%
(E) Mass communications & documentation 13400 14360 15090 14470 15550 13010 14050 5%
(F) Languages 28290 29485 30085 29920 30900 25930 26590 -6%
(G) Historical & philosophical studies 21160 22450 23360 23250 23735 20030 21110 0%
(H) Creative arts & design 46725 48490 51600 50685 53775 46545 48880 5%
(I) Education 18940 20765 22320 21745 23205 21595 21290 12%
(J) Combined 11605 11480 11785 11230 15005 9900 6345 -45%
Total 460240 493650 518850 518280 552240 495275 521990 13%

Subjects in detail

The two largest subjects within biological sciences are psychology and sport & exercise science, which saw increases in first degree entrant numbers of 26% and 34% respectively over the seven years.
(C8) Psychology

(C6) Sport & exercise science

Subjects allied to medicine is dominated by nursing, which saw a 73% rise in first degree entrants since 2007/08. This reflects the sector-wide change of nursing qualifications from DipHE to first degree level. Over the same period, entrants to complimentary medicines, therapies and well-being fell by 49%.
(B7) Nursing

(B3) Complementary medicines, therapies & well-being

Languages was the largest subject area to see a fall in student numbers. This subject area includes English studies, which saw a 5% drop in first degree entrants.
(Q3) English studies

There were also drops in the numbers of entrants for foreign language degrees. French fell by 25%, German by 34% and Spanish by 1%. Overall the number of entrants to modern foreign languages* fell by 16% between 2007/08 and 2013/14. 
(R1) French studies

(R2) German studies

(R4) Spanish studies

Modern foreign languages

A table showing the equivalent data for all principal subjects can be downloadedhere.

Publication

Students in Higher Education 2013/14 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 2013/14 is available to purchase now.

Further tables and graphs from Students in Higher Education 2013/14 are published as free online data tables and in the publication's introduction.

A schedule of HESA releases for 2015 can be found here.

Notes for editors

  1. Press enquiries should be directed to:
  2. In the above data 0, 1, 2 are rounded to 0. All other numbers are rounded up or down 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 2013/14 data covers 160 HEPs (130 in England, 8 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 subjects of study can be found in Statistical First Release 210 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.
  8. *'Modern foreign languages' comprises the following principal subjects:
    • (R1) French studies
    • (R2) German studies
    • (R3) Italian studies
    • (R4) Spanish studies
    • (R5) Portuguese studies
    • (R6) Scandinavian studies
    • (R7) Russian & East European studies
    • (R8) European studies
    • (R9) Others in European languages, literature & related subjects
    • (T1) Chinese studies
    • (T2) Japanese studies
    • (T3) South Asian studies
    • (T4) Other Asian studies
    • (T5) African studies
    • (T6) Modern Middle Eastern studies
    • (T7) American studies
    • (T8) Australasian studies
    • (T9) Others in Eastern, Asiatic, African, American & Australasian languages, literature & related subjects.

Ends

Share
Press Release

Press Officer