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Higher Education Student Statistics 2019/20 released

The first release of HESA student data for the 2019/20 academic year shows an increase in overall student numbers with most of the growth due to non-UK domiciled entrants.

View Higher Education Student Statistics: UK 2019/20

The data released today relates to students enrolled between 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2020 including the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2019/20 release includes data from English HE providers registered as either Approved (fee cap) or Approved with the Office for Students.

Headline statistics from today’s Statistical Bulletin include:

  • The total number of HE students stood at 2,532,385 in 2019/20, an increase of 3% from 2018/19.
  • The number of first year students from EU countries fell by 2% while the number from non-EU countries rose by 23%.
  • The total number of students from India more than doubled from 27,505 in 2018/19 to 55,465 in 2019/20.
  • There was a 37,605 or 15% increase in first year masters taught course enrolments from 2018/19 to 2019/20 mostly due to an increase in non-EU students.
  • The number of students on first degree courses (e.g. BA/BSc) increased by 3%, but the number on other undergraduate courses fell by 6%.
  • A total of 800,335 HE qualifications were awarded in 2019/20, of which 53% were first degrees.
  • 35% of classified first degrees were awarded first class honours compared to 28% in 2018/19. This rise coincides with a ‘no detriment’ approach to assessment adopted by many providers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.1

For more detail on all of these headlines, please see today’s Statistical Bulletin Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2019/20. The bulletin is a National Statistics release published as open data which includes interactive tables and charts divided across four topics plus a summary and notes. 
A further open data publication Higher Education Student Data will be released on 9 February. This will include more detailed breakdowns from the 2019/20 HESA Student, Student Alternative and Aggregate Offshore records. 

If you have comments or suggestions about today’s release please give feedback via the form in the bulletin.


  1. In relation to classifications of first degrees and other awards, many providers issued public statements that a 'no detriment' approach would be adopted when it came to assessment. This typically ensured that students would be awarded a final grade no lower than the most recent provider assessment of their attainment.
  2. Percentages exclude unknown values.
  3. See Definitions: Students for definitions of terms used in the release and explanation of the coverage of statistics.
  4. See Upcoming data releases for a schedule of Official Statistics releases from HESA, including Statistical Bulletins, Performance Indicators and full open data releases.
  5. HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
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