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Latest facts, figures and trends in higher education

26 October 2017
Daniel Wake

Daniel Wake

Policy Analyst
Universities UK
Higher education in facts and figures 2017

Universities UK publishes today the 2017 edition of higher education in facts and figures, an annual publication that provides headline data on the UK higher education sector.

This year's report presents data on students, staff and finances of UK higher education institutions, and analyses trends, where appropriate. For the first time, we have introduced an 'outcomes' section that includes data on graduate employment, salaries and satisfaction with the university experience.

Key points from this year's publication include:​


Students at UK higher education institutions vary in a myriad of ways, from their age and backgrounds, to their course subjects, study levels and study modes. The UK is the most popular university destination for international students behind the USA, and this adds to the diversity of the student body.

Figure one: Students at UK higher education institutions by domicile and level of study, 2015–​16.


Source: HESA student record [2015−16]*


The 2017 National Student Survey suggested that students remain highly satisfied with their university experience. Overall student satisfaction was 84%, while satisfaction with course teaching and learning resources was 85%. Labour market statistics also continue to demonstrate that graduates have lower unemployment rates, higher median salaries, and are more likely to be in high-skill employment than non-graduates.

Figure two: Unemployment rates and median salaries in the UK, 2016


Source: DfE (2017) Graduate labour market statistics


As with students, university staff are also highly diverse. In 2015−16, 29% of the UK's academic staff were from overseas, with 17% from the European Union (EU) (excluding the UK). 6% of non-academic staff were from other EU countries, while 4% were from outside the EU.​


In 2015−16, tuition fees accounted for less than half of the total income for higher education institutions. Just under a quarter of income came from direct UK government sources, while 16% of research income came from sources outside of the UK. In terms of expenditure, more than half of university spending was attributed directly to teaching and research. This figure does not include expenditure on resources that also contribute significantly to student's learning experience, such as libraries, accommodation and IT.

Figure​ three: Income of higher education institutions in the UK by source, 2015–16



​Source: UUK analysis of HESA finance record

 You can download the full report and data sets on the higher education in facts and figures report page​.

*Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited. Neither the Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited nor HESA Services Limited can accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from data or other information obtained from Heidi Plus.​

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