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Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2018/19 - Notes

Statistical Bulletin SB255


Who produced this Statistical Bulletin?

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

A mapping document shows the changes in structure to the bulletin from 2017/18 to 2018/19.

Which HE providers are included?

This release contains information regarding all UK publicly funded higher education institutions plus one alternative provider, The University of Buckingham. In addition, from 2016/17 this bulletin includes data for students enrolled on HE level courses at further education (FE) colleges in Wales (of which there were 1,705 students registered at 3 FE colleges in 2018/19). This covers all fully subscribed members of HESA who supply the complete Student record. Data on alternative providers (APs) have been added as a supplement to this release.

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. From 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 2018/19:

  • 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 2018/19 has collected data from 98 providers, compared with 99 providers in 2017/18. Two providers who returned data in the 2017/18 AP student record did not return data in 2018/19. Eight providers are new to the dataset in 2018/19. Two providers that returned data in the 2017/18 dataset have merged into two of the eight new providers in the 2018/19 record. Two providers lost designated status in 2018/19.

Has data for earlier years been revised?

This release uses revised data returns (the 'fixed' database) for time series figures. 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 tables and charts

The tables and charts (labelled as figures) within this bulletin are interactive. There are options immediately above the figures to filter by data field(s) such as by first year marker or mode of study. The figures refresh to display the option(s) chosen, updating the data accordingly. The 'Reset filters' link below each figure will clear all selected options.

In the figures, 0, 1, 2 are rounded to 0. All other numbers are rounded up or down to the nearest multiple of 5 in line with the HESA rounding strategy. Percentages are calculated on unrounded data and are rounded to the nearest whole number. This means percentages may not sum exactly to 100%.

It is a criminal offence under Section 171 of the Data Protection Act 2018 for a person knowingly or recklessly to re-identify information that is de-identified personal data without the consent of the controller responsible for de-identifying the personal data.

How can I get the data in a spreadsheet?

All the data is presented in interactive tables on the HESA website and will not be published in Excel spreadsheets. Below each table you will find a link to download the table as a *.csv.

If you are planning to open the *.csv files in Excel, you must ensure you import the *.csv data, rather than just opening the file directly. This will ensure the data is presented appropriately without corrupt characters appearing. We have published instructions on how to import *.csv files in earlier versions of Excel. If you are using Excel 2016, you should select 'Data' in the top ribbon and then choose 'From Text/csv'. In the options screen, select '65001: Unicode (UTF-8)' in the 'File Origin' box; click 'Edit' and ensure that all columns are formatted as 'Text'.

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.

How are Open University students counted?

As in the 2017/18 release, enrolments and qualifications registered at one of The Open University's (OU) national centres in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will contribute to the totals of those countries where statistics are shown by country of HE provider. Please note that all non-UK domiciled OU students, those who study at postgraduate research level, and students returned in the Aggregate offshore record, are registered to the OU administrative centre in England.

National Statistics

The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics. A compliance check undertaken by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) in December 2018 confirmed that these statistics can continue to be designated as National Statistics.

Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

  • are of public value
  • are of high quality; and
  • are produced by departments and public bodies that can be trusted.

Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

Where can I find more detail on students in higher education?

Our Higher Education Student Data, 2018/19 open data release will be published by HESA on 5 February 2020. This will provide more detailed information about students in higher education in the UK.


The data presented in this bulletin is based on the 2018/19 HESA Student and Aggregate offshore records and the 2018/19 HESA alternative provider student record. The statistics in this bulletin are derived by HESA from data collected from all publicly funded HE providers in the UK (including The Open University), plus the University of Buckingham, which is privately funded, and further education colleges in Wales.

Student enrolments and qualifications data was prepared in January 2020 using the following versions of the datasets:

  • 2008/09 Fixed dataset, November 2011 version
  • 2009/10 Fixed dataset, September 2012 version
  • 2010/11 Fixed dataset, August 2013 version
  • 2011/12 Fixed dataset, September 2014 version
  • 2012/13 Fixed dataset, September 2016 version
  • 2013/14 Fixed dataset, February 2018 version
  • 2014/15 Fixed dataset, March 2018 version
  • 2015/16 Fixed dataset, June 2019 version
  • 2016/17 Original dataset, November 2017 version
  • 2017/18 Original dataset, February 2019 version
  • 2018/19 Original dataset, November 2019 version


AP Student enrolments and qualifications data was prepared in January 2020 using the following versions of the datasets:

  • 2015/16 Fixed dataset, December 2017 version
  • 2016/17 Original dataset, January 2018 version
  • 2017/18 Original dataset, January 2019 version
  • 2018/19 Original dataset, December 2019 version

Student enrolments and qualifications definitions

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

Aggregate offshore definitions

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

AP Student enrolments and qualifications definitions

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

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

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

Pre-release access list for 16 January 2020 release

Pre-release access list for 29 January 2020 supplement


Department for Education

Welsh Government logo

Scottish Government logo

Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland)