1. Main facts and figures
- in 2016/17, 337,740 people graduated from an undergraduate degree (only counting those who were UK residents before their degree and whose ethnicity was known)
- 28.6% of White graduates achieved a first class degree in 2016/17, compared with 12.3% of Black graduates (the highest and lowest percentages respectively out of all ethnic groups)
- 50.9% of White graduates achieved an upper-second class (2:1) degree, making them the most likely group to do this
- 79.5% of White graduates achieved a first class or 2:1 degree compared to 55.6% of Black graduates
- the difference between the percentage of White and Black graduates achieving a first class or 2:1 degree decreased slightly between 2012/13 and 2016/17
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 2011 Census (for the years from 2012/13 onwards)
The broad ethnic groups are:
- Asian or Asian British
- Black or Black British
The White ethnic group includes:
- White Scottish (used by Scottish higher education providers)
- Irish Traveller (used by Northern Irish higher education providers), Gypsy or Traveller
- other White background (used by Scottish higher education providers)
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
2. By ethnicity
|1st class||Upper 2nd class||Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass||Unclassified|
|Ethnicity||% of each ethnicity||Number of students||% of each ethnicity||Number of students||% of each ethnicity||Number of students||% of each ethnicity||Number of students|
3. By ethnicity over time
|Ethnicity||1st class||Upper 2nd class||Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass||1st class||Upper 2nd class||Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass||1st class||Upper 2nd class||Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass||1st class||Upper 2nd class||Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass||1st class||Upper 2nd class||Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass|
|All (excl Unknown)||18.8||51.3||29.9||20.7||52.0||27.3||22.8||51.1||26.1||24.3||50.9||24.8||26.5||50.1||23.4|
These statistics have been prepared from the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) student record.
Ethnicity of the student is recorded on the basis of their own self-assessment. In the case of full-time undergraduates, the information is captured as part of the admissions process through UCAS. For other student groups the information is captured directly by the higher education institution.
Student numbers are rounded to the nearest 5 students. Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place.
Analysis published by the Office for Students investigates these differences in more depth.
Further technical information
5. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Higher Education Statistics Agency
Purpose of data source
The Higher Education Statistics Agency has been collecting student information (known as the ‘student record’) since 1994/95.
The data it contains 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
6. Download the data
This file contains the following variables: Measure, Ethnic group, Ethnicity_type, Academic year, Classification of first degree, Count, Value, Geography, Source