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Report looks at latest trends in UK higher education

3 December 2015
Drawing of a line graph
Universities UK published today its latest Patterns and Trends report which presents a range of data on the changing size and shape of UK higher education.

This year’s report, part of an annual series, shows how the higher education sector is continuing to change and adapt.

The report focuses on the decade between academic years 2004–05 and 2013–14, which was a period of considerable change for the UK’s higher education sector.

Key points from the report include:


The decline in the number of part-time students has continued. Full-time students now make up nearly three-quarters of the student body, up from just over 60% in 2004–05

Disadvantaged backgrounds 

The student body has become more diverse in terms of student background, with 42% more students from disadvantaged backgrounds on full-time first degree programmes in 2014 than in 2005. This is something which Universities UK will be focusing on in the next year, and we are leading a task force to advise the universities and science minister on supporting progress in social mobility through widening participation in higher education .

Non-EU international students 

This year’s report shows that the proportion of students coming from outside the EU increased from 9.0% in 2004-05 to 13.5% in 2013-14. In some subjects this is even higher, with just under a quarter of those studying engineering in 2013–14 from outside the EU.


Figures show that graduates have had consistently lower unemployment rates compared with non-graduates, even during recessions. Latest HESA data show that 95% of the class of 2010–11 were employed or undertaking further study three and a half years after graduating.

Gender split 

In 2013–14, 56.1% of students were female; this is down from 57% in 2004–05.  Within this there was some variation by level of study. At first degree level 55.1% of students were female while at postgraduate research level 47.0% of students were female (this increased from 44.5% in 2004–05).

Key Contacts

Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

Media Relations Manager
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK


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