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

Statistical First Release Experimental SFR249

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Who produced this Statistical First Release?

This SFR has been produced by HESA in collaboration with statisticians from the Department of Education, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, and the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland and with support from analysts from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

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 HEFCE 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. In 2016/17, APs with degree awarding powers were additionally required to return data about students on taught Masters designated courses. The coverage does not include APs who offer exclusively non-designated courses.

Exclusions to the coverage above for 2016/17:

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

  • Students expected to spend less than eight consecutive course weeks in the UK during their entire programme. 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.

  • All postgraduate courses, including those designated for DSA only and graduate entry programmes (including stand-alone Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) part 2), with the exception of:

    • Taught Masters courses
    • Integrated postgraduate/undergraduate provision which includes the Postgraduate Certificate in Education and the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education, which are initial teacher training qualifications within the remit of the AP student collection.
  • Students who leave a course within two weeks of the commencement date, unless the student has applied for a loan with the SLC and the attendance has been confirmed.

  • 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).

  • Non-designated intercalated degrees.

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

  • Students on non-designated courses where the total FTE of the course is less than one year when studied full-time (i.e. 120 credits or less for its entirety).

Though APs offer more flexible provision in terms of commencement dates of courses, the AP student record was collected based on the HESA reporting period. This ensures consistency across the data collected. The 2016/17 AP student record was collected in respect of activity which took place between 1 August 2016 and 31 July 2017.

Students on courses that lost designation during the academic year will be showing as on a non-designated course.

How has the AP constituency changed since last year?

The HESA AP student record 2016/17 has collected data from 96 providers, compared with 98 providers in 2015/16. Four providers who returned data in the 2015/16 AP student record did not return data in 2016/17, and two providers are new to the dataset in 2016/17. One of those two is Ballet West, the only AP in Scotland to return data to HESA. Of those providers that returned data in the 2015/16 record but not the 2016/17 record, two lost designation status, one merged with a publicly funded HE provider and one had a UKPRN and name change for 2016/17.

New to the 2016/17 record, was the requirement for APs with degree awarding powers to return data about students on taught Masters designated courses. There were six APs who submitted data to the AP record under this requirement:

  • Arden University
  • BPP University
  • University College of Estate Management
  • The London Institute of Banking & Finance
  • Regent's University London
  • The University of Law

Why is this publication "Experimental Statistics"?

The Code of Practice for Official Statistics defines Experimental Statistics as: "new official statistics undergoing evaluation. They are published in order to involve users and stakeholders in their development and as a means to build in quality at an early stage".

This is the third year that the AP student record data has been collected and coverage continues to increase. We are continuing to explore and understand the quality of the data that has been returned and the data will be continually evaluated for its stability, reliability and completion over the forthcoming annual collections. The AP SFR has been published as we realise that there is great interest in HE that is delivered outside publicly funded providers and further education colleges.

How to use the interactive charts and tables, and access the underlying data

This SFR 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 release

This SFR is designed primarily for on screen users. Each section of the SFR can be printed by pressing Control P from within a section.


The data presented in this SFR is based on the 2016/17 HESA AP student and Student records. The statistics in the HE totality section of this SFR 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 SFR 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 SFR.

Student enrolments and qualifications data was prepared in January 2018 using the following versions of the datasets:

HESA AP student record:

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

HESA student record:

  • 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 webpage.

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 211 120, [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 211 133, [email protected].




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


Children, education and skills

Issued by

HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ

Press enquiries

+44 (0) 1242 211 120

Public enquiries

+44 (0) 1242 211 133


Rebecca Mantle


[email protected]

Department for Education

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Scottish Government logo

Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland)