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Staff at higher education institutions in the United Kingdom 2008/09

Statistical First Release SFR143

This is the first release of data from the 2008/09 HESA staff record.

Key points - all staff

On 1 December 2008 there were 382,760 staff employed in the HE sector, of whom 179,040 (46.8%) were academic professionals.

252,520 staff were employed on full-time contracts and 130,240 on part-time contracts. 46.5% of full-time staff and 67.3% of part-time staff were female.

In addition, a further 194,125 atypical staff*, were employed by HEIs over the academic year.

Key points - academic staff

Of 179,040 academic staff (excluding atypicals) employed on 1 December 2008 77,745 (43.4%) were female.

17,535 academic staff were employed as Professors, of whom 3,270 (18.7%) were female.

115,945 (64.8%) of academic staff were employed on open-ended or permanent contracts and 35.2% were employed on fixed term contracts.


Table 1 shows the number of staff employed at UK HEIs in 2008/09 by activity, mode of employment and gender.

Table 2 gives a summary of academic staff (excluding atypical staff) employed by HE institutions on 1 December 2008.

Detailed analysis of the HESA Staff Record will be available in the reference volume Resources of Higher Education Institutions 2008/09 due out in May 2010.

Table 1 - All staff in UK HE institutions by activity, mode of employment and gender** 2008/09

  Full-time   Part-time   Atypical*
  Female Male Total   Female Male Total   Female Male Total
All activities 117315 135205 252520   87695 42540 130240   100785 92625 194125
Managers 6860 7390 14250   1360 350 1710   170 225 400
Academic professionals 44350 73115 117465   33400 28175 61575   39180 43920 83290
Non-academic professionals 11680 10455 22135   4260 1220 5480   5385 5595 10985
Laboratory, engineering, building, IT & medical
technicians (including nurses)
6775 16265 23040   3060 1510 4570   2340 3405 5740
Student welfare workers, careers advisors, vocational training instructors, personnel & planning officers 4365 1980 6345   2840 625 3465   4845 2835 7695
Artistic, media, public relations, marketing & sports occupations 2425 1980 4405   1090 430 1520   3045 2210 5275
Library assistants, clerks & general administrative assistants 25555 7655 33215   17560 3935 21495   30220 21440 52130
Secretaries, typists, receptionists & telephonists 9980 850 10830   6260 510 6775   2855 2005 4860
Chefs, gardeners, electrical & construction trades, mechanical fitters & printers 610 4250 4865   265 140 405   275 340 615
Caretakers, residential wardens, sports & leisure attendants, nursery nurses & care occupations 1245 1610 2855   1475 855 2330   1590 1315 2905
Retail & customer service occupations 375 215 590   545 165 715   840 525 1365
Drivers, maintenance supervisors & plant operatives 160 1170 1325   110 125 235   80 135 215
Cleaners, catering assistants, security officers, porters & maintenance workers 2935 8265 11205   15475 4495 19970   9955 8680 18640
Source: HESA Staff Record 2008/09
* See Note 3
** See Definitions (Gender)
Table 2 - Summary of academic staff (excluding atypical) in UK HE institutions 2008/09
  Full-time Part-time Total
Total academic staff 117465 61575 179040
Female 44350 33400 77745
Male 73115 28175 101290
Source of salary      
Wholly institutionally financed 84700 54745 139445
Other sources of finance 32760 6830 39595
Academic employment function      
Teaching only 8210 37610 45825
Teaching & research 75110 17025 92135
Research only 33170 6745 39915
Neither teaching nor research 970 195 1170
Professorial status      
Professor 15530 2005 17535
Not a professor 101930 59575 161505
Terms of employment      
Open-ended/permanent 86135 29805 115945
Fixed-term contract 31330 31770 63100
Source: HESA Staff Record 2008/09
** See Definitions (Gender)

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. The 2008/09 data covers 166 HEIs (131 in England, 12 in Wales, 19 in Scotland and 4 in Northern Ireland).
  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. See definitions below for more details.
  4. 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.

The HESA staff person population is an indicator of those individuals who have one or more contracts that are active on 1 December within the reporting period. Atypical staff are not counted in this population.

The HESA staff person population is used in analysis of staff person 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 analysis, staff counts have been divided among 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 that work anything less than full-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.


Staff whose gender is 'not known' have been included in totals but are not shown separately. Staff whose gender is 'not known' have been excluded from percentage calculations.

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.

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: 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 - these staff contracts are paid mainly or wholly from sources other than general institution funds. Other sources of finance describes those contract salaries where the proportion financed by other sources is greater than 50%. These sources include NHS/General Medical or General Dental practice or Department of Health, BIS Research Councils, UK based charities, UK central government bodies and local authorities, UK industry, commerce & public corporations, European Union (EU) sources, other overseas sources and other sources not listed.

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. 



21 January 2010, 9:30




Children, education and skills

Issued by

HESA, 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ

Press enquiries

01242 211120

Public enquiries

01242 211133


Simon Kemp


[email protected]