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Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2017/18 - Notes

Statistical Bulletin SB252

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Who produced this Statistical Bulletin?

This bulletin has been produced by HESA in collaboration with statisticians from the Department for Education, 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.

Which HE providers are included?

As with previous years, 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 1,670 students registered at 3 FE colleges in 2017/18). This covers all fully subscribed members of HESA who supply the complete Student Record. This release excludes HE provision at FE colleges in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which is not collected by HESA and also excludes other alternative providers in the sector. Information for the alternative providers, and summary information on the totality of HE provision will be released on 14 February 2019.

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.

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%.

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 Control P from within a section.

How are Open University students counted?

As in the 2016/17 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, 2017/18 open data release will be published by HESA on 30 January 2019. This will provide more detailed information about students in higher education in the UK.


The data presented in this bulletin is based on the 2017/18 HESA Student and Aggregate offshore records. 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. The figures therefore exclude HE enrolments and qualifications obtained by students registered at any other UK further education colleges and at other private and independent UK HE colleges.

Student enrolments and qualifications data was prepared in January 2019 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 Original dataset, November 2016 version
  • 2016/17 Original dataset, November 2017 version
  • 2017/18 Original dataset, November 2018 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.

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

17 January 2019, 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

Public enquiries

+44 (0) 1242 211 494


Rebecca Mantle

Pre-release access

View pre-release access list for this release

Department for Education

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Scottish Government logo

Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland)