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Higher Education Student Statistics: Alternative Providers, 2017/18 - Notes

Statistical Bulletin Experimental SB254

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Who produced this Statistical Bulletin?

This bulletin has been produced by HESA in collaboration with statisticians from the Department for Education, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, and the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland and with support from analysts from the Office for Students (OfS). It has been released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

What is an alternative provider and what is a designated course?

Alternative providers (APs) are higher education providers who do not receive recurrent funding from OfS or other public bodies and who are not further education colleges. There are a substantial number of APs, but only those who have successfully completed the designation process are required to submit data to us (except those who only have postgraduate courses designated for Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) only). This designation process means eligible students can access loans and grants from the Student Loans Company (SLC) on specific courses, referred to as designated courses.

What is the coverage of the HESA AP student record?

In 2014/15, only the larger APs who offered HE courses in England, and were subject to student number controls, were required to report on students who followed full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate ITT courses that were designated for student support purposes. This was irrespective of whether the student was in receipt of SLC funding. From 2015/16, the coverage extended to all APs who offered postgraduate initial teacher training (ITT) or undergraduate designated courses in England. These APs were required to return information about students enrolled on all designated and most non-designated undergraduate courses and postgraduate ITT courses. From 2016/17, APs in England with degree awarding powers were additionally required to return data about students on taught Masters designated courses. In 2017/18 all APs who offered HE courses in England were required for the first time to return postgraduates on both taught and research courses. They were also required to return students studying undergraduate non-designated courses lasting less than one year. The coverage does not include APs who offer exclusively non-designated courses.

Exclusions to the coverage above for 2017/18:

  • Students studying wholly outside of the UK for the duration of their programme.

  • Students visiting from overseas but who remain registered with their overseas provider.

  • Students expected to spend less than eight consecutive course weeks in the UK during their entire programme. Note that students on non-designated courses are only required to be returned where the majority of time (50% or more) of their study will be in the UK.

  • Students who are not studying for credits or a qualification (e.g. students 'auditing' a course).

  • Non-designated courses that are not open to any suitably qualified candidate and will typically be courses offered only to employees of particular organisations (closed courses).

  • Students on employment-based routes (e.g. GTP, OTT and RTP) with the exception of student on the School Direct Training Programme.

  • Students who are not registered with the provider. This exclusion includes students who are taught by the returning provider through a franchise/subcontractual arrangements, but who are registered with another provider.

  • Students on non-designated courses that are run in the UK but only for international and/or EU students.

  • Students who study for less than two weeks and do not have attendance confirmed to the SLC/ SAAS.

  • Students who aren't active during the reporting period. These students are only required when it is necessary to report a change in their status - for instance, because they become active, or end their instance.

  • Students who are studying below higher education level.

How has the AP constituency changed since last year?

The HESA AP student record 2017/18 has collected data from 99 providers, compared with 96 providers in 2016/17. Four providers who returned data in the 2016/17 AP student record did not return data in 2017/18, and six providers are new to the dataset in 2017/18. One provider had no students included in the standard registration population in 2016/17, but did return students in this population prior to 2016/17 and again in 2017/18.

Of the four providers that returned data in the 2016/17 record but not the 2017/18 record, two transferred their students to another provider mid-way through the academic year. These other providers submitted data for the proportion of the year from when the students were transferred. A third provider completed their teach out in 2016 and the fourth went on teach out and did not submit any data.

Has data for earlier years been revised?

This release uses revised data returns (the 'fixed' database) for time series figures where available. 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. 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 to use the interactive charts and tables, and access the underlying data

This bulletin is designed primarily for online use. Many of the tables and charts are interactive, and include filters that allow you to drill-down into the data.

Below each table and chart are links that allow you to access the underlying data. The ‘Download table (csv)’ link lets you download the data exactly as it appears in the table or chart (including any filters that have been applied). ‘Download source data (csv)’ lets you download a machine-readable csv file containing all of the underlying data behind the table.

How to print this bulletin

This bulletin is designed primarily for on screen users. Each section of the release can be printed by hitting Ctrl+P from within a section.

Why is this publication "Experimental Statistics"?

The Code of Practice for Statistics defines Experimental Statistics as: "A subset of newly developed or innovative official statistics undergoing evaluation."

This is the fourth year that the AP student record data has been collected and the coverage has increased. We are continuing to explore and understand the quality of the data that has been returned. This bulletin has been published as we realise that there is great interest in HE that is delivered outside publicly funded providers and further education colleges.


The data presented in this bulletin is based on the 2017/18 HESA AP Student and Student records. The statistics in the HE totality section of this bulletin are derived by HESA from data collected from all publicly funded HE providers in the UK (including The Open University) and those APs who submitted data to HESA. Throughout the other sections of this bulletin the statistics are derived by HESA only from data collected from those APs who submitted data to HESA. Please note that The University of Buckingham is an AP but returns data through the HESA Student record and is included only in the HE totality section of this bulletin.

Student enrolments and qualifications data was prepared in February 2019 using the following versions of the datasets:

HESA AP Student record:

  • 2014/15 Fixed dataset, May 2017 version
  • 2015/16 Fixed dataset, December 2017 version
  • 2016/17 Original dataset, January 2018 version
  • 2017/18 Original dataset, January 2019 version

HESA Student record:

  • 2013/14 Fixed dataset, February 2018 version
  • 2014/15 Fixed dataset, March 2018 version
  • 2015/16 Original dataset, November 2016 version
  • 2016/17 Original dataset, November 2017 version
  • 2017/18 Original dataset, November 2018 version

Student enrolments and qualifications definitions

See data intelligence for specific notes about this year's AP student data return.

See data intelligence for specific notes about this year's student data return.

HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.

Contact Us

Press enquiries should be directed to the Press Office at HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ, +44 (0) 1242 211 120, [email protected]. General enquiries about the data contained within this bulletin should be addressed to Rebecca Mantle, Official Statistics Manager, HESA (at the same address), +44 (0) 1242 211 494, [email protected].

Release date

14 February 2019, 9:30



Release frequency

Annual - view all releases (2014/15 - onwards)


Children, education and skills

Issued by

HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ

Press enquiries

+44 (0) 1242 211 120, [email protected]

Public enquiries

+44 (0) 1242 211 494, [email protected]


Rebecca Mantle

Pre-release access

View pre-release access list for this release

Department for Education

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Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland)