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Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2018/19

Statistical Bulletin SB255


Figure 1a - First year higher education (HE) student enrolments (including on alternative provider designated courses) by level of study

Academic years 2009/10 to 2018/19

  • First degree courses remain the most popular type of higher education, as enrolments in other types of undergraduate courses continue to fall.
  • Postgraduate taught courses have seen an increase in first year student numbers in recent years. In both 2017/18 and 2018/19, the rise was largely due to an increase in enrolments from non-European Union (non-EU) students (see figure 8 for details of these students).
  • Figures 1a and 2a include both higher education institutes (HEIs) and alternative providers (APs). It is important to note that AP data is only included from 2015/16 in both figures. Data prior to 2015/16 applies to publicly funded higher education institutions (HEI) in the UK, the privately funded University of Buckingham, and HE level provision at further education (FE) colleges in Wales only. Figure 1 and figure 2 are equivalent versions excluding AP data and were published on 16 January 2020. These have been archived for reference.

Figure 2a - HE qualifications obtained (including on AP designated courses) by level of qualification

Academic years 2009/10 to 2018/19

  • The number of postgraduate taught qualifications continues a rising trend. This follows the increase in enrolments on postgraduate taught courses from 2016/17.
  • The number of first degree qualifications obtained has increased each year, with the exception of 2014/15 which is likely to be related to the drop in first year students in 2012/13.
  • The number of other undergraduate qualifications continues to decline, reflecting the decrease in first year other undergraduate student enrolment numbers.

About this release

This Statistical Bulletin is the annual first release of HESA student data. It covers higher education (HE) providers who submit a full Student record data return to HESA. This includes publicly funded higher education institutions (HEI) in the UK, the privately funded University of Buckingham, and HE level provision at further education (FE) colleges in Wales (accounting for 1,705 students in 2018/19).

Data on alternative providers (APs) have been added as a supplement to this release. 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 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 2018/19. It also includes, from 2016/17, student numbers from one AP in Scotland in this record.

From 2019/20, new registration categories exist where providers can choose to apply to register as approved (fee cap) or approved. This bulletin uses terminology consistent with the 2018/19 reporting year in which such categories did not exist. See section 90 of Securing student success: Regulatory framework for higher education in England published by the Office for Students for further information on this.

This bulletin also includes information from the HESA Aggregate offshore record and can be seen in figure 11. This separate record counts students studying wholly outside the UK who are either registered with the reporting HEI or who are studying for an award of the reporting HEI. APs do not submit an Aggregate offshore record.

Readers should be aware that data definitions sometimes change over time. This, and coverage changes can affect the validity of time series comparisons. Any significant changes have been explained in the definitions.

The student record quality report contains important information on uses and users of the data, the quality of the data and a summary of methods used to compile student data outputs.

National Statistic

Release date

16 January 2020, 9:30

29 January 2020, 9:30



Release frequency

Annual - view all releases (1998/99 onwards)


Children, education and skills

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

Public enquiries

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Rebecca Mantle

Pre-release access

Pre-release access list for 16 January 2020 release

Pre-release access list for 29 January 2020 supplement


Department for Education

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