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Higher Education Student Statistics: Alternative Providers, 2016/17 - Summary

Statistical First Release Experimental SFR249


  • There were 51,930 undergraduate students on designated courses at alternative providers (APs) in 2016/17. Of these, 25,785 were in their first year of study.
  • There were 6,805 Masters taught students on designated courses at APs with degree awarding powers in 2016/17. This represented 12% of the total number of student enrolments on designated courses at APs.
  • There was a 2% decrease in the overall number of undergraduate students on designated courses at APs between 2015/16 and 2016/17.
  • The numbers of first degree and foundation degree students on designated courses at APs rose (by 3% and 75% respectively) while the numbers of HNC/HND and other undergraduate students fell (by 12% and 10% respectively).
  • The number of part-time undergraduate students on designated courses at APs fell by 18% between 2015/16 and 2016/17.
  • There were 6,645 first degrees awarded from designated courses at APs in 2016/17. Of those that were classified, 58% were awarded a first or upper second class degree.
  • There were 2,564,470 HE students in 2016/17, across publicly funded HE providers, further education (FE) providers and designated courses at APs.


This Statistical First Release (SFR) is the annual first release of HESA student data from alternative providers. In previous years it has been titled "Higher education undergraduate student enrolments and qualifications obtained at alternative providers in England".

Alternative providers (APs) are higher education providers who do not receive recurrent funding from the Funding Councils or other public bodies and who are not further education (FE) colleges. Eligible students can access loans and grants from the Student Loans Company (SLC) on specific courses, referred to as designated courses.

This release focuses on all those alternative providers who supplied data to the HESA alternative provider student record. In the main, this includes APs in England that have successfully completed the designation process (with the exception of The University of Buckingham which supplied data to the HESA student record) for the academic year 2016/17. It also includes, for 2016/17, student numbers from one AP in Scotland.

Within this SFR, there is a new section on HE totality. This contains summary information on HE students at FE colleges in the UK, alongside information on students from APs and publicly funded UK HE providers.

Next: Student numbers and chatracteristics

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15 February 2018, 9:30



Release frequency

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

Pre-release access

View pre-release access list for this release


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Rebecca Mantle


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Department for Education

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