The number of students on the first year of a university course in the UK broke the 1 million mark for the first time last year, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
The number of first-year students - including students in the first year of a postgraduate course, foundation degree or higher national diploma - in 2003-04 totalled 1.012 million, an increase of 3.6 per cent over the previous year.
But the number of students beginning HNDs, higher national certificates, foundation degrees and other diplomas fell by 3.8 per cent to 318,025.
While the number of first-year undergraduates stood at 431,235, the number of postgraduate students beginning a course totalled 262,955 - an increase of 5.6 per cent over the year before.
The student population as a whole totalled 2.247 million. The number of non-UK students also increased, from 142,355 in 2002-03 to 154,710 last year.
Foreign students now represent 15.3 per cent of first-year students.
The figures also show that the number of women entering higher education continues to outpace the number of men, with 594,685 women admitted on to the first year of a course, equivalent to 58.8 per cent of the 2003-04 intake.