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Higher Education Staff Data - new open data release

HESA’s new release of staff data for 2017/18 reveals chemical engineering as the academic field with the fastest growing number of academic staff, and one of the disciplines most reliant on non-UK nationality staff.

Detailed data on staff by cost centre – an accounting concept used as a proxy for academic departments1 – show the disciplines gaining and losing academic staff. In the four years since 2014/15 the numbers of academic staff working in chemical engineering departments has increased by 20%. Other cost centres with significant growth in academic staff numbers were politics & international studies (up 18%) and psychology and behavioural sciences (up 16%).

Overall academic staff numbers at UK higher education providers increased by 7% over the four years covered by the data release. Over the same period cost centres seeing a fall in academic staff numbers included health & community studies (down 15%), catering & hospitality management (down 14%), and continuing education (down 12%).

The cost centre statistics also reveal differences in the personal characteristics of academic staff. Less than half of academic staff in chemical engineering and modern languages in 2017/18 were of UK nationality2 compared to over 90% of academic staff in the nursing & allied health professions and 69% of academic staff overall.

Nursing & allied health professions was also the cost centre with highest proportion of female academic staff (75%). The cost centre with the lowest proportion of female academics was electrical, electronic & computer engineering at only 15%. Across all disciplines 46% of academic staff in 2017/18 were female.

The statistics come from Higher Education Staff Data, HESA’s open data release of staff statistics for the 2017/18 academic year. The release includes detailed breakdowns of staff data in five topics:

Most data tables include four years of data, with older data available through HESA’s free online publication archive.

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



  1. Cost centre is a financial concept which groups staff members to specific related cost centres which enables analysis between the Student, Staff and Finance streams. All HE providers arrange their academic schools, faculties and departments differently. HESA cost centres are designed to be as comparable as possible between different providers.
  2. UK nationality includes Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
  3. Figures in this release relate to staff employed on the census date of 1 December 2017.
  4. Statistics in this release exclude ‘atypical’ staff. Atypical contracts are generally non-permanent contracts for short, one-off, or as-and-when tasks. Atypical staff figures are counted differently and shown separately and should not be added to non-atypical figures. See the Terms of employment definition for more detail.
  5. See Definitions: Staff for full definitions of terms used in the release and explanation of the coverage of statistics.
  6. See Upcoming data releases for a schedule of Official Statistics releases from HESA.
  7. HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
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