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Staff at higher education institutions in the United Kingdom 2011/12

Statistical First Release SFR185

This is the first release of data from the 2011/12 HESA Staff record. The release provides details of staff employment at UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) on 1 December 2011. It has been produced in partnership with the UK administrations and is released in accordance with the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Key Points - all staff

On 1 December 2011 there were 378,250 staff (excluding atypical staff, refer to notes to editors 3) employed in the HE sector, showing a decrease of 0.9% from 381,790 staff employed on 1 December 2010. 181,385 (48.0%) were academic professionals compared to 181,185 (47.5%) in 2010.

248,125 staff were employed on full-time contracts (251,320 in 2010) and 130,125 on part-time contracts (130,465 in 2010).

46.9% of full-time staff and 67.0% of part-time staff were female in 2011 the same percentages as in the previous year.

In addition, a further 187,865 atypical staff, were employed by HEIs over the 2011/12 academic year showing an increase of 2.4% from the previous year when 183,490 atypical staff were employed.

Key Points - academic staff

80,775 (44.5%) of academic staff on 1 December 2011 were female compared to 80,090 (44.2%) in 2010.

18,465 academic staff were employed as professors in 2011 showing an increase of 5.7% from 17,465 in the previous year.

3,790 (20.5%) of academic staff employed as professors in 2011 were female showing a 9.7% increase in numbers from the previous year (3,455).

115,680 (63.8%) of academic staff were employed on open-ended or permanent contracts in 2011 compared to 120,860 (66.7%) in 2010. 36.2% were employed on fixed term contracts in 2011 compared to 33.3% in the previous year.


Table 1

Shows the number of staff employed at UK HE institutions in 2011/12 by activity, mode of employment and gender.

Table 2

Provides a summary of academic staff (excluding atypical staff) employed at HE institutions on 1 December 2011.

Tables showing 2010/11 data can be found here

Tables showing 2009/10 data can be found here

Detailed analysis of the HESA Staff record will be available in the reference volume Staff in Higher Education Institutions 2011/12 due to be released in March 2013.

Notes to editors

  1. HESA data is collected from all publicly funded Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the UK, plus the University of Buckingham, which is a non-publicly-funded institution.
  2. HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
  3. Atypical staff contracts are those with working arrangements that are not permanent, involve complex employment relationships and/or involve work away from the supervision of the normal work provider, only a minimum data set is required. Please note, these contracts are recorded based on a different population definition from non-atypical contracts, see definitions below for more details.
  4. Staff of indeterminate gender, plus those whose gender is not known, are included in total figures but not in separate breakdowns. Staff of indeterminate gender, plus those whose gender is not known have been excluded from percentage calculations.
  5. Definitions of the terms used in this press release follow.



The staff record provides data in respect of the characteristics of members of all academic and non-academic staff employed under a contract of employment by a higher education institution (HEI) in the UK. Staff employed under consultancy contract, or on the basis of payment of fees for services without a contract of employment are not included in the record.

The HESA staff contract population is an indicator of those contracts that were active on 1 December within the reporting period. Atypical staff contracts are not counted in this population.

The HESA staff contract population is used in analyses of staff contract attributes by full-person equivalents (FPE).

The HESA staff atypical population is an indicator of those individuals who have only atypical contracts within the reporting period.

Full-person equivalent (FPE)

Individuals can hold more than one contract with an institution and each contract may involve more than one different activity. In published analyses staff counts have been divided amongst their activities in proportion to the declared FTE for each activity. This results in counts of full person equivalents (FPE). Staff FPE counts are calculated on the basis of contract activities that were active on 1 December of the reporting period (using the HESA staff contract population).

SOC - Occupational coding for higher education staff

Academic staff are defined as academic professionals who are responsible for planning, directing and undertaking academic teaching and research within HE institutions. They also include vice-chancellors, medical practitioners, dentists, veterinarians and other health care professionals who undertake lecturing or research activities. All academic staff fall into group 2A of the SOC classification, regardless of their discipline (e.g. science, engineering, social sciences, humanities, languages).

Non-academic staff are defined as members of staff who fall into one of the remaining 12 occupational categories such as managers, non-academic professionals, student welfare workers, secretaries, caretakers and cleaners.

Mode of employment

Full-time staff are those whose contracts state that their mode of employment is full-time. This includes staff who work full-time for part of a year and term-time only staff who work full-time during the term.

Part-time staff are those staff whose contracts state that their mode of employment is part-time. (This includes the atypical category where institutions were unable to assign staff contracts to either the full-time or the part-time category).

Mode of employment is an attribute of the contract, not the person. Therefore, a person will be counted as wholly part-time, even if they hold a number of part-time contracts that sum to one FTE. The FPE allocated to the full-time category will only reflect the people that hold a full-time contract. This is consistent with the treatment of other attributes of the contract.


From 2008/09 the specification for staff gender falls within the scope of the Aligned Data Definitions adopted by the Information Standards Board (ISB) for education, skills and children's services (escs).

Indeterminate gender means unable to be classified as either male or female, and intended to identify staff who are intersex, and not trans-gender nor as a proxy for not-known.

Professorial role

Professor indicates whether the contract confers the title of professor to the holder, regardless of whether an institution's local grade structure contains a professor grade.

Terms of employment

Terms of employment describes the type of contract(s) a member of staff has with the institution at the date the data is returned to HESA, or date of leaving if earlier.

Open ended/permanent staff are those who are employed on a contract of employment that states the member of staff as permanent or on an open-ended contract. This includes term-time only staff who are employed on an open-ended contract.

Fixed-term contract staff are those employed for a fixed period of time or have an end date on their contract of employment. This includes staff on rolling fixed-term contracts.

Atypical staff are those whose working arrangements are not permanent, involve complex employment relationships and/or involve work away from the supervision of the normal work provider. These may be characterised by a high degree of flexibility for both the work provider and the working person, and may involve a triangular relationship that includes an agent. Source: Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Discussion Document on Employment Status, July 2003, paragraph 23.

In addition to this definition from the DTI, some HE specific guidance has been devised by HESA in consultation with institutions. Atypical contracts meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • Are for less than four consecutive weeks - meaning that no statement of terms and conditions needs to be issued.
  • Are for one-off/short-term tasks - for example answering phones during clearing, staging an exhibition, organising a conference. There is no mutual obligation between the work provider and working person beyond the given period of work or project. In some cases individuals will be paid a fixed fee for the piece of work unrelated to hours/time spent.
  • Involve work away from the supervision of the normal work provider - but not as part of teaching company schemes or for teaching and research supervision associated with the provision of distance learning education.
  • Involve a high degree of flexibility often in a contract to work as-and-when required - for example conference catering, student ambassadors, student demonstrators.

Source of basic salary

Source of basic salary indicates whether contract salaries are paid wholly or in part from funds other than general institution funds. Whether income can be regarded as general institution funds or not depends on the distinction between unrestricted and restricted income as defined in the 'Statement of Recommended Practice: Accounting in Higher Education Institutions' (SORP). Restricted income is that which can only be applied to a specific purpose or activity so designated by the grantor or donor.

Wholly institutionally financed staff contracts are those paid wholly from general institution funds.

Other sources of finance - includes staff contracts partly (but principally) financed by the institution (where the proportion financed by the institution equals, or is greater than, 50% of the basic salary), plus staff contracts paid mainly or wholly from sources other than general institution funds (where the proportion financed by other sources is greater than 50%).

Other sources includes contracts returned as: NHS/General Medical or General Dental practice or Department of Health; BIS Research Councils (including Research council - not specified); UK central government bodies and local authorities; UK industry, commerce and public corporations; Charities (including Cancer Research UK, Wellcome Trust, other Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) plus other charitable foundation); EU government bodies; EU other; Other overseas sources plus other sources.

Academic employment function

The academic employment function of a member of staff relates to the academic contract of employment and not the actual work undertaken.

Teaching only staff are those whose contracts of employment state that they are employed only to undertake teaching.

Teaching & research staff are those whose contracts of employment state that they are employed to undertake both teaching and research.

Research only staff are those whose contracts of employment state that the primary academic employment function is research only, even though the contract may include a limited number of hours teaching.

Neither teaching nor research staff are those whose contracted academic employment function is neither teaching nor research, e.g. Vice-Chancellor.

Rounding strategy

In the text and tables the figures presented are rounded, 0, 1 and 2 are rounded to 0. All other numbers are rounded up or down, to the nearest 5.


Enquiries should be directed to the Press office at the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ, telephone: 01242 211120.



17 January 2013, 9:30




Children, education and skills

Issued by

HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ

Press enquiries

01242 211120

Public enquiries

01242 211133


Jenny Skeet


[email protected]