First year entrants onto undergraduate degrees
1. Main facts and figures
- in 2017/18, 552,860 people started an undergraduate degree at a UK higher education institution (whose ethnicity was known)
- 75.3% were White, 11.2% were Asian, 7.8% were Black, 4.1% were from a Mixed ethnic background and 1.7% were from the Other ethnic group
- between 2007/08 and 2017/18, the number and percentage of undergraduate entrants decreased for the White ethnic group, but increased for all other ethnic groups
- the Asian ethnic group saw the biggest increase in the percentage and number of entrants in the same time period
- the number of undergraduate entrants reached a high of 721,165 in 2009/10 – there has since been a decline, dropping to 552,860 in 2017/18, the lowest number over the 11 years shown here
The ethnic categories used in this data
The Higher Education Statistics Agency collects 11 detailed categories of ethnicity.
The ethnic category groups included in the White group differ between England and Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland. To present data for the whole of the UK, the statistics here have been aggregated into the 5 broad categories used in the:
- 2001 Census (for the years before 2012/13)
- 2011 Census (for the years from 2012/13 onwards)
The broad ethnic groups are:
- Asian or Asian British
- Black or Black British
- White Scottish (used by Scottish higher education institutions)
- Irish Traveller (used by Northern Irish higher education institutions), Gypsy or Traveller
- other White background (used by Scottish higher education institutions)
In the 2001 Census, people from the Chinese ethnic group were counted under the ‘Other’ category. In the 2011 Census, they were counted under the ‘Asian’ category.
HESA also collects data of students whose ethnicity is categorised as unknown or not applicable. This includes students:
- who did not live in the UK before starting their course
- whose place of residence before starting their course is unknown (2014/15 only)
- who refused to give ethnic information
- whose ethnicity is unknown
Data about these students is not included in the graphs and tables.
2. First year entrants onto undergraduate degrees by ethnicity
These statistics have been prepared by the Department for Education using the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) student record.
The student record is used to derive the HESA standard registration population, which includes first-year students at registered higher education and further education providers who started their programme of study between 1 August to 31 July the following year.
Students must be on courses that lead to the award of a qualification or higher education credit.
In some cases the student’s first year of study may be the second or subsequent year of an undergraduate programme.
Student numbers are rounded to the nearest 5 students. Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place.
Further technical information
4. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Higher Education Statistics Agency
Purpose of data source
Student information collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency is used extensively by various stakeholders for higher education:
- performance indicators
- publications (including UNISTATS)
- league tables
The student record collects individual data about students including:
- the student’s entry profile and personal characteristics
- module and course-level data
- funding information
- qualifications awarded
5. Download the data
Measure, Academic Year, Ethnicity, Ethnicity Type, Value, Value Type, Number, Numerator, Denominator