HESA have just published their statistical first release for student enrolments and qualifications obtained at Higher Education providers in the United Kingdom 2014/15.
This is always a useful summary, to see the size of the HE “market”, and whch subjects appear to be growing or in decline, data which of course can be cross-referenced to UCAS data releases to to see how trends in applications map to trends in enrolments.
The headline data shows nothing new – the total number of students engaged in HE study dropped by 2%, largely due to the 6% drop on part time enrolments. Part time still continues to be a problematic area for the sector.
In terms of subjects, we can see how individual subject areas are growing or in decline, which should influence the way in which institutions might want to proactively manage their portfolio.
The latest information shows that the areas of growth for undergraduate study are: biological science, computer science, subjects related to agriculture, engineering and technology, with the biggest gain in creative arts and design. On the other hand, there has been a sector wide drop in enrolments at undergraduate level again in languages, but also in business, law, history and philosophy, and education.
On attainment, and an area of interest in light of comments on possible grade inflation in the recent discussions around the Green Paper, HESA note that “of those gaining a classified first degree, the proportion who obtained a first or upper second has shown a steady increase from 64% in 2010/11 to 72% in 2014/15. In 2014/15, 22% gained a first class degree compared to 15% in 2010/11.”. This steady rise will be reflected in league tables of course, but importantly for my own institution, our good degree rate has risen (not to the sector average), but to a defensible level.
Looking at data n where students come from, we can see that the UK is still a desirable location for HE study. Considering English HEIs only, the data shows:
Not surprisingly we see that China remains the biggest provider of students to English HEIs, and continuing drop in students from India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, while there has been a big rise in students from Hong Kong.
As always the HESA data release provides excellent background information for anyone wanting an understanding of the shape of the UK HE sector, and where the trends are in types of students, their level and mode of study, their domicile, their outcomes and the attractiveness of the various subject groups.