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Part-time student numbers plummet

As HESA release its data from the 2013/14 academic year, part time students have been shown to drop significantly and the proportion of graduates receiving first and second class degrees have increased substantially. Emily Lupton rounds up the latest data.
This article is more than 9 years old

Emily Lupton graduated from the University of Lincoln in 2014 with a degree in Journalism. She worked for Wonkhe as Graduate Editor for a year before moving onto other journalistic pursuits.

Part-time student numbers continue to drop

Enrolments for part time students in UK higher education have continued to fall with a drop of 8 per cent to 603,325 in 2013/14 according to figures published today by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). This is a drop of nearly 55,000 compared to the 658,130 part-time enrolments in 2012/13.

Since the increase of fees in 2012 to £9000, part-time enrolment has fallen by 22 per cent. Part-time first year enrolments fell similarly by 7 per cent between 2012/13 and 2013/14. Only 28 per cent of first year enrolments were part-time in 2013/14 compared to 31 per cent the year before.

The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) highlighted that there needs to be more effort from policy makers to raising part-time student numbers. “Addressing the decline in part-time study must be a priority, and the sector needs to work together to find solutions so that these types of study options remain viable” said Professor Les Ebdon, Director of the Office of Fair Access to Higher Education.

Overall student numbers have declined

While total full-time and total postgraduate enrolment has risen slightly by 1 per cent, undergraduate enrolment has dropped by 2 per cent and part-time enrolment has dropped significantly. Overall, student numbers fell by 2 percent in the last year. In 2013/14 the total number of higher education enrolments at UK higher education providers (HEPs) stood at 2,299,355, a decrease of 40,920 on 2012/13.

Wonkhe HESA SFR Enrolment

Full-time numbers have increased slightly by 1 per cent to 1,696,030 from 1,682,145 in 2012/13. Enrolment for full-time first degree students increased more significantly by 2 per cent from 1,312,355 to 1,334,245 in 2013/14. This follows the decision by ministers to make available an extra 30,000 student places in 2013/14, giving universities more opportunity to recruit.

Postgraduate enrolments also fared well with a 4 per cent increase on first-year enrolments. First year postgrad enrolments in Agriculture and related subjects rose by 20 per cent.

Enrolments from outside EU increase but numbers from India fall

The number of enrolments from outside the EU increased by 3 per cent between 2012/13 and 2013/14 where the number grew from 299,970 to 310,195. The largest number of students from non-EU countries were from China with nearly 90,000 students, an increase of 5 per cent on 2012/13. The second largest on the list was India with close to 20,000 students however, they observed a 12 per cent fall in numbers in the last year. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia also observed falls in numbers of 7 and 4 per cent respectively.

Nearly 1 in 5 graduates achieves a first

The proportion of graduates achieving a first or upper-second class degree rose by 2 per cent to 70 per cent. 79,440 graduates received a first in 2013/14 compared to 69,625 in 2012/13 and 198,405 graduates achieved an upper second an increase of 11,040.

Between 2010/11 and 2013/14, 27 per cent more graduates have achieved a first or upper-second class degree. The number of graduates receiving a first degree has also increased over this period, but only by a rise of 14 per cent in comparison. 19 per cent of graduates now achieve a first compared to just 8 per cent in 1999.

Find HESA’s new figures on student enrolments and qualifications obtained here.

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