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Seeing the bigger picture: HE in Facts and Figures 2015

Eleanor Jubb

Eleanor Jubb

Policy Analyst
Universities UK
Facts and figures pattern


With so many statistics published about higher education each year, it can be difficult to work out what’s important and get a ‘big picture’ sense of the higher education sector in the UK. We like to think that Universities UK’s annual publication, Facts and Figures, goes some way to solving that.


It provides nearly 30 pages of infographics covering everything from the proportion of 18-year-olds applying to university, to how much extra graduates are paid; from what universities spend their money on, to what proportion of GDP is spent on universities globally; and from who funds research in universities, to how successful that research is.


One of the things which comes out most clearly from this year’s publication is how diverse the sector is. Thirteen percent of undergraduate students and 38% of postgraduate students come from outside the UK.



The biggest source of international students was the EU, home to 29% of all international students. Within the EU, the majority of students came from Germany, France and Ireland.



And academic staff are a similarly diverse bunch, with 15% from countries within the EU and 12% from outside the EU. In some subjects, non-UK staff make up an even higher proportion: 37% of those working in engineering and technology and 35% of those employed within science and maths fields are from outside the UK.



Universities in the UK are diverse in terms of their size and income too, with student bodies ranging from fewer than 1,000 students to over 150,000, and with incomes ranging from under £10 million to over £1 billion.



Another element which this year’s Facts and Figures publication makes clear is how successful UK universities have been over the last year. More than two-thirds of all full-time first degree finalists graduated with a first or 2.1 in 2013–14, and six months later 89% of all first degree students were in work or continuing studying. In fact, graduates have an unemployment rate less than half that of non-graduates and their median salaries are 41% higher. Satisfaction with university courses also remains very high.



And staff have been very successful as well. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework 76% of research outputs by academics at UK universities were judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent, jumping to 83% in engineering and the physical sciences.


This year’s Facts and Figures covers academic year 2013–14, the latest year for which data is available. See the document in full and find out more interesting higher education related facts​​.


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