Skip to main content

HESA Students in Higher Education Institutions 2005/06 reveals India now number two provider of overseas students to UK

Data from the newly released HESA Students in Higher Education Institutions 2005/06 shows India is now second only to China in the number of overseas students it provides to the UK. The climb in Indian student numbers shows no sign of slowing down after a 15.1% increase in intake, greater than the previous year’s increase of 14.1%. The total number of Indian domiciled students was over 19,000; 5.8% of non-UK domiciled students. India leapfrogged Greece into second place in the table as the UK saw a 10.2% fall in the number of HE students from its EU partner.

However, India is some way off rivalling the number of students from China. Despite a fall of 3.7% in the number of Chinese domiciled students, the world’s most populous country continues to provide over 50,000 students to the UK. This accounts for more than 15% of non-UK domiciled students.

Total number of students by country of domicile (top 10) 2005/06

Country of domicile Total 2005/06 Change (%) 2004/05 to 2005/06
China (People's Republic of) 50755 -3.7
India 19205 15.1
Greece 17675 -10.2
Republic of Ireland 16790 2.7
United States 14755 2.6
Germany 13265 5.7
France 12455 6.6
Malaysia 11450 -0.2
Nigeria 9605 17.9
Hong Kong 9445 -12.4
Source: HESA Students in Higher Education Institutions 2004/05, 2005/06

The number of Nigerian students grew by almost 18% while the number of Hong Kong domiciled students decreased by around 12%.

Overall, in 2005/06 the total number of students domiciled in countries outside of the UK increased by 3.7% from 318,400 to 330,080.

Meanwhile, the number of full-time undergraduates aiming for a first degree has risen by 3.3% from 1,039,130 in 2004/05 to 1,073,775 in 2005/06. Most subject areas recorded an increase in students; the largest percentage increase was recorded in the architecture, building and planning subject area, which saw a 13.8% year-on-year growth in full-time students aspiring to a degree.

Physical sciences recorded a rise of 3.7% in full-time first degree students. An increase of nearly one third was seen in the subject category of forensic and archaeological science. At the same time physics, chemistry, and geology all recorded an increase in enrolments.

Business and administrative studies retained its status as the most popular subject group among this category of students in 2005/06 with 140,040 students, an annual increase of 1.9%. Creative arts & design and social studies followed in second and third place with 113,625 and 103,180 students respectively.

Excluding combined studies, the only subject area to record a decrease in full-time first degree students was computer science. Numbers decreased 10.7% by just over 7,000 students, following on from a year on year decrease of 8.7% in 2003/04 to 2004/05.

Full-time first degree students by subject areas (with physical sciences disaggregated into principal subjects) 2004/05, 2005/06 and percentage change.

Subject area / Principal subject (within physical sciences) 2004/05 2005/06 Change (%) 2004/05 to 2005/06
Physical sciences 47185 48945 3.7
Physical sciences by principal subject      
- Broadly-based programmes within physical sciences 1130 1190 5.5
- Chemistry 10830 11045 2
- Materials science 175 215 24.4
- Physics 9290 9370 0.9
- Forensic & archaeological science 4340 5745 32.4
- Astronomy 1200 1105 -8.1
- Geology 4400 4490 2
- Ocean sciences 745 775 4.3
- Physical & terrestrial geographical & environmental sciences 13955 13800 -1.1
- Others in physical sciences 1120 1205 7.5
Other subject areas      
Medicine & dentistry 38060 40650 6.8
Subjects allied to medicine 77220 83395 8
Biological sciences 96975 101345 4.5
Veterinary science 3510 3570 1.7
Agriculture & related subjects 7115 7365 3.5
Mathematical sciences 19660 20395 3.7
Computer science 66600 59445 -10.7
Engineering & technology 70250 70775 0.7
Architecture, building & planning 21985 25020 13.8
Social studies 98875 103180 4.4
Law 49185 51110 3.9
Business & administrative studies 137440 140040 1.9
Mass communications & documentation 32030 32970 2.9
Languages 72220 73660 2
Historical & philosophical studies 49030 51210 4.4
Creative arts & design 107350 113625 5.8
Education 38000 40780 7.3
Combined 6435 6295 -2.2
Total - All subject areas 1039130 1073775 3.3
Source: HESA Students in Higher Education Institutions 2004/05, 2005/06

The data above is derived from the HESA Students in Higher Education Institutions 2005/06. This publication includes comprehensive student data on gender, ethnicity, disability, level and mode of study, institution, qualifications obtained, highest qualification on entry, and more. The Students in Higher Education Institutions 2005/06 is available for purchase for £50 + VAT from the HESA sales desk by calling (01242) 211155. Back issues of this publication are also available for purchase.

Further information is available online at our publications page or from the HESA Press Office on 01242 211120.

Notes to editors

  1. Press enquiries should be directed to:
    • Greg Wells
    • HESA Press Officer
    • 01242 211120
    • [email protected]
    • 95 Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 1HZ.
  2. Students in Higher Education 2005/06 is available from the Customer Services Team:
    • HESA Services Limited
    • 95 Promenade
    • Cheltenham
    • GL50 1HZ
    • 01242 211155
    • [email protected]
    • This product is produced as a CD-ROM containing a wide range of data in a series of detailed tables. The CD-ROM is also accompanied by a printed reference volume containing summary tables of the CD-ROM data.
  3. HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
  4. Due to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998, HESA implements a strategy in published and released tabulations designed to prevent the disclosure of personal information about any individual. These tabulations are derived from the HESA non-statutory populations and may differ slightly from those published by related statutory bodies. This strategy involves rounding all numbers to the nearest 5. A summary of this strategy is as follows:
    • 0, 1, 2 are rounded to 0
    • All other numbers are rounded to the nearest 5

    So for example 3 is represented as 5, 22 is represented as 20, 3286 is represented as 3285 while 0, 20, 55, 3510 remain unchanged.

  5. Analyses of subject information show Full Person Equivalents (FPE). These are derived by splitting student records between the different subjects that make up their qualification aim.
  6. Within HESA data student numbers for China (People's Republic of) do not include students domiciled in Taiwan, or the Chinese Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong or Macao.
  7. A follow-up to this press release is due for release in the week commencing 9 April 2007, its focus will be on the widening participation data within the HESA Student Reference volume.
  8. Definitions


    Higher education (HE) students are those students on programmes of study for which the level of instruction is above that of level 3 of the National Qualifications Framework, i.e. courses leading to the Advanced Level of the General Certificate of Education (GCE A-levels), the Advanced Level of the Vocational Certificate of Education (VCE A-levels) or the Advanced Higher Grade and Higher Grade of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) Advanced Highers/Highers).

    The HESA Student Record contains information about individual enrolments, which, because a student can be enrolled on more than one programme of study, will exceed the number of students. Postdoctoral students are not included in the HESA Student Record.

    The HESA standard registration population has been derived from the HESA Student Record and ensures that similar activity is counted in a similar way irrespective of when it occurs. The population splits the student experience into ‘years of programme of study’; the first year of which is deemed to start on the commencement date of the programme with second, and subsequent years, starting on, or near, the anniversary of that date. Registrations are counted once for each ‘year of programme of study’. Short course registrations are counted in the standard registration population regardless of whether they are active on the 1 December of the reporting period. However students who leave within 2 weeks of their 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. Dormant students, incoming visiting and exchange students from overseas and students studying for the whole of their programme of study outside of the UK are also excluded from this population.

    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 programme 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.

    Level of study

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

    First degree includes first degrees with or without 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), enhanced first degrees, first degrees obtained concurrently with a diploma and intercalated first degrees.


    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 All Fields Postcode Directory. Countries are mapped to geographical regions following consultation with the Department for Education and Skills. Where no data is supplied about the student's domicile, fee eligibility is used to determine whether domicile is European Union, including the UK, or not.

    UK domiciled students are those whose normal residence is in the UK, including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

    Of those students who are not UK domiciled, other EU students are those whose normal residence is in countries which were European Union (EU) members as at 1 December of the reporting period. Non-EU students are those whose normal residence prior to commencing their programme of study was outside the EU.

    Percentages given in this press release on domicile exclude non-UK domiciled students whose country of domicile is unknown.

    Subject of study and JACS codes


    The subject coding systems HESACODE and SCAS originally used respectively by HESA and by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), although broadly similar, were far from identical. Towards the end of the 1990s work was put in hand by the two Agencies to produce a common scheme, the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS). This came into use for the 2002 entry to HE through UCAS, and for the 2002/03 data collection by HESA. JACS and HESACODE, and the subject areas defined in terms of them, are similar in appearance and have much in common, but they are by no means identical. For this reason, and also because of the introduction of apportionment (see below), subject-based information published for years up to and including 2001/02 cannot easily be compared with that published since 2002/03.

    Specification of JACS

    All JACS subject codes consist of a letter followed by three digits, the first of them non-zero (except the generic codes described below). The initial letter identifies the subject group, for example F for Physical Sciences. The initial letter and immediately following digit identify the principal subject, for example F5 Astronomy. F500 is a valid JACS code used where there is no need for a higher level of precision, but subjects can be identified more precisely using a second non-zero digit, for example F520 Space and Planetary Sciences, and, with even more precision, F521 Space Science and F522 Planetary Science. Often it is necessary to consider together all the codes, or all the student numbers, falling within a principal subject, and this is done by referring to it using just the first two characters, so F5 refers to all of Astronomy and to total numbers in it, by no means all of which will have code F500. Similarly, F52 refers to the whole of Space and Planetary Sciences. Full details of JACS can be found at

    Programme codes

    Student programmes often involve combinations of subjects, and so cannot be described by a single JACS code. Within the HESA student data collection, there are two mechanisms for dealing with this. First, JACS has been slightly extended to allow codes to be assigned to highly integrated programmes which cut across principal subjects. Where such a broadly-based programme falls within a single subject group, it can be coded as the group letter followed by three zeroes, for example F000 would code such a programme in Physical Sciences. This is known as a generic code, and is an extension of JACS for the purpose of coding complete student programmes; generic codes may not be used in any other way, for example for coding modules. Programmes which cut across subject groups are given the generic code Y000, which is equivalent to continuing to recognise the need for a ‘Combined’ subject group. The second mechanism is designed to describe less integrated programmes of the kind often known as Joint Honours. The HESA record contains three qualification aim fields and a balance field which together make it possible to report the subject coverage of two subject balanced, two subject major/minor, and three subject balanced programmes.


    Additionally, a procedure of apportionment is used. Under apportionment, each headcount is, where necessary, divided in a way that in broad-brush terms reflects the pattern of a split programme. This is analogous to the use of FTE calculations, but should not be confused with them, since the splits used for apportionment are conventional rather than data-based.

    For split programmes not involving an initial teacher training (ITT) component, the apportionment algorithm is as follows:

    • 50%:50% for a balanced two-way split
    • 66.667%:33.333% for a major/minor two-way split
    • 33.333%:33.333%:33.333% for a balanced three-way split.

    ITT students at undergraduate level who also have a specialism subject recorded (typically, secondary ITT students) are apportioned 50% to the ‘Education’ subject area and the remaining 50% is further apportioned according to the algorithm for non-ITT students. Where no subject other than education is recorded, or where the student is on a PGCE course, apportionment is 100% to the ‘Education’ subject area.


Press Release

Press Officer