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HESA reference volume published today: Students in Higher Education Institutions 2008/09

The newly released Students in Higher Education Institutions 2008/09 publication from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that there were 2,396,050 students in higher education in the UK in 2008/09. Of these 2,027,085 (84.6%) were UK domicile students, 117,660 (4.9%) were from other EU member countries and 251,310 (10.5%) were from non-EU countries.

The table below shows the rate of increase of students by domicile. The number of students from non-EU countries increased at a faster rate since 2007/08 than numbers of UK domicile students.

Students at UK HE institutions by domicile 2007/08 and 2008/09
Domicile 2007/08 2008/09 % change
UK 1964310 2027085 3.2%
Other EU 112150 117660 4.9%
Non-EU 229640 251310 9.4%
Total 2306105 2396050 3.9%
Source: HESA Students in Higher Education Institutions 2007/08, 2008/09

Students from China and India accounted for nearly one third of all non-EU domicile students at UK HE institutions in 2008/09. The table below shows the growth in numbers of students from the top ten non-EU countries of domicile from 2007/08 to 2008/09.

Top ten non-EU countries of domicile in 2008/09 for HE students in UK Higher Education Institutions
Country of domicile 2007/08 2008/09 % change
China 45355 47035 3.7%
India 25905 34065 31.5%
Nigeria 11785 14380 22.0%
United States 13905 14345 3.2%
Malaysia 11730 12695 8.3%
Pakistan 9305 9610 3.3%
Hong Kong 9700 9600 -1.0%
Canada 5005 5350 6.9%
Taiwan 5615 5235 -6.8%
Saudi Arabia 3535 5205 47.2%
Total non-EU domicile 229640 251310 9.4%
Source: HESA Students in Higher Education Institutions 2007/08, 2008/09

The number of students from other EU countries also continued to rise between 2007/08 and 2008/09. The table below shows the growth in numbers of students from the top ten other EU countries of domicile in 2008/09.

Top ten other EU countries of domicile in 2008/09 for HE students in UK Higher Education Institutions
Country of domicile 2007/08 2008/09 % change
Ireland 15260 15360 0.6%
Germany 13625 14130 3.7%
France 12685 13090 3.2%
Greece 12625 12035 -4.7%
Cyprus 9640 10370 7.6%
Poland 8570 9145 6.7%
Italy 5605 6035 7.7%
Spain 5740 5690 -0.9%
Netherlands 3025 3200 5.9%
Sweden 3195 3185 -0.3%
Total other EU domicile 112150 117660 4.9%
Source: HESA Students in Higher Education Institutions 2007/08, 2008/09

Almost half of all non-UK domicile students in 2008/09 were studying for postgraduate qualifications. While the majority of UK domicile postgraduate students studied part-time, most non-UK postgraduate students were studying full-time. The table below shows the number of students by domicile, level of study and mode of study in 2008/09.

Students by domicile, level of study and mode of study 2008/09
  Postgraduate Undergraduate  
Domicile Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time All students
UK 119285 234145 1114860 558790 2027085
Non-UK 148715 34670 157170 28415 368970
Total 268000 268815 1272030 587205 2396050
Source: HESA Students in Higher Education Institutions 2008/09

The HESA Students in Higher Education Institutions 2008/09 reference volume includes comprehensive student data on student domicile, level and mode of study, subjects of study, qualifications obtained, offshore provision, and more. Students in Higher Education Institutions 2008/09 is available to purchase from our website or by calling +44 (0) 1242 211155.  Back issues of this publication are also available.

Notes for editors

  1. Press enquiries should be directed to:
  2. In the above data 0, 1, 2 are rounded to 0. All other numbers are rounded up or down to the nearest multiple of 5.
  3. HESA student 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 165 HEIs (131 in England, 11 in Wales, 19 in Scotland and 4 in Northern Ireland).
  4. HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
  5. Definitions of the terms used in this press release follow:

    Definitions

    The HESA standard registration population includes all higher education students active at a reporting institution in the reporting period 1 August to 31 July.  Students who leave within two weeks of their instance start date, or anniversary of their start date, and are on a course of more than two weeks duration, are not included in the standard registration population.

    Also excluded from this population are:

    1. Dormant students (those who have ceased studying but have not formally de-registered)
    2. Postdoctoral students
    3. Incoming visiting and exchange students
    4. Students where the whole of the programme of study is outside of the UK, and from 2007/08:
    5. Students on sabbatical, and
    6. Writing-up students.

    Level of study

    The level of study is taken from the qualification aim of the student.

    HESA classifies courses according to a framework which aligns with the framework for HE qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ), the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) (of which the framework for qualifications of HE institutions in Scotland is a constituent part) and the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) and Bologna frameworks. Details are available at www.hesa.ac.uk/C07051/a/COURSEAIM. It includes level M for taught masters degrees, and level H for honours degrees.

    Postgraduate courses are those leading to higher degrees, diplomas and certificates (including Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE at level M) and professional qualifications) which usually require a first degree as an entry qualification (i.e. already qualified at level H).

    Undergraduate courses are programmes of study at level H, including, but not limited to, first degrees (including eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care or veterinary statutory regulatory body), first degrees with qualified teacher status (QTS)/registration with the General Teaching Council (GTC), Postgraduate bachelors degrees at level H, enhanced first degrees, first degrees obtained concurrently with a diploma and intercalated first degrees, Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE at level H), foundation degrees, diplomas in HE with eligibility to register to practice with a health or social care regulatory body, Higher National Diploma (HND), Higher National Certificate (HNC), Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), foundation courses at HE level, National qualifications framework levels 4 and 5, post-degree diplomas and certificates at undergraduate level, professional qualifications at undergraduate level and other undergraduate diplomas and certificates including post-registration health and social care courses. Entrants to these programmes of study do not usually require an HE qualification.

    Mode of study

    Full-time students are those normally required to attend an institution for periods amounting to at least 24 weeks within the year of study, on thick or thin sandwich courses, and those on a study-related year out of their institution. During that time students are normally expected to undertake periods of study, tuition or work experience which amount to an average of at least 21 hours per week.

    Part-time students are those recorded as studying part-time, or studying full-time on courses lasting less than 24 weeks, on block release, or studying during the evenings only. 

    Domicile

    Domicile data is supplied to HESA in the form of postcodes (UK domiciled students) or country codes. Postcodes are mapped to counties, unitary authorities and UK nations using the National Statistics Postcode Directory. Countries are mapped to geographical regions following consultation with the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Where no data is supplied about the student's domicile, fee eligibility is used to assign to either UK region unknown or Non-European Union unknown.

    UK domiciled students are those whose normal residence is in the UK, and for the purposes of this publication include Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. (Officially, the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man are not part of the UK or the EU.)

    (Other) European Union (EU) students are those whose normal residence is in countries which were European Union (EU) members as at 1 December of the reporting period. Where EU countries are shown separately, from 2007/08, individual country figures exclude those domiciled in the country's overseas territories (e.g. Netherlands Antilles, French Guiana). These figures are included in European Union not otherwise specified.

    Non-European Union students are those whose normal residence prior to commencing their programme of study was outside the EU. Where Non-EU countries are shown separately, individual country figures exclude the country's overseas territories (e.g. Svalbard, Cook Islands). These figures are included in the Other countries not listed category of the geographic area in which they lie.

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