The expansion of higher education in the United Kingdom

September 26, 1997


Official figures for 180 institutions in the UK are collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, including the Open University but excluding the private University of Buckingham.

Universities' total income in 1996 was about Pounds 10.7 billion

In 1996/97 14.8 per cent of first year undergraduates of known ethnicity were from ethnic minorities

In the same year, 42.3 per cent of first year undergraduates were aged 21 or over on entry.

Total spending on academic staff in 1995/96 exceeded Pounds 6.1 billion.

13 per cent of part time students began their courses with only A-Levels/SCE Highers or equivalents

About 3.6 per cent of full time students were disabled in 1996/97.

22.6% of postgraduate students were from overseas in 1996/97

By the end of 1996 60.8 per cent of that year's graduates reported employment, including self-employment as their main activity.

Unemployment among 1995/96 graduates reached 7 per cent by the end of 1996


1 There were 717,100 new students at UK higher education institutions in 1996/1997, 53% embarking on full-time undergraduate.

2 Of all new entrants in 1996/97, men dominated the subject areas of Engineering & Technology (86%) and Computer Science (78%), while women were much more prevalent in Subjects Allied to Medicine (83%) and Education (69.5%)

3 Overall an estimated 48% of full-time UK domiciled students did not move from their region of domiciled when they embarked on a programme of study in 1995/96

4 Of the 126,582 academic staff in 1995/96, 68% were male and 32% female. This gender split was similar among full-time staff, with a more equal split among part-time staff.

5 The average age of all full-time staff in 1995/96 was 40 (unchanged from the previous year). 35% of full-time staff were under 35; 11% of full-time staff were aged 55 years and over

6 Of the major sources of income received by the institutions in 1995/96, Pounds 4.5 came from Funding Council Grants, Pounds 2.5 billion from Academic Fees and Support Grants, and Pounds 1.6 billion from Research Grants and Contracts.

7 Of the functional areas of expenditure in the same year, apart from the Pounds 4.6 billion spent in Academic departments, Pounds 1.3 billion was spent in Administration and Services, with Pounds 747 million spent in Residences and Catering operations.

8 Among the 256,000 graduates responding to the 1995/96 HESA First Destinations supplement, 50,4 (20%) were reported as undertaking further study or training; the largest proportion on postgraduate diplomas and certificate courses, including PGCEs

9 39% of UK domiciles entering employment went into professional occupations with this category including, among others, scientists, engineers, teachers, lawyers, accountants and surveyors. This percentage was 77% amongst postgraduates

10 Property development, renting, business and research activities were the most popular areas of employment among those graduating with first degrees, with 9,096 females and 12,6 males

HESA definitions:

Higher education students are on programmes higher than A level or its equivalent, enrolled on December 1 of the relevant year, at publicly-funded institutions in the UK, with student qualifiers being those awarded HE qualifications during the period 1/8/95 - 31/7/96

Financial data relates to the institutions' financial year. Staff data relates to current individual appointments of at least 25% FTE. The HESA GDS Target population includes all full-time students obtaining relevant qualifications between 1/08/95 and 31/07/96. There was an 82.7% response rate.

All data is sourced from HESA publications.

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