First year entrants onto postgraduate study

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in the 2019 to 2020 academic year, 221,220 people started a postgraduate course at a UK higher education provider – this only includes students who were UK residents before their study and whose ethnicity was known

  • in the 5 academic years to July 2020, the percentage of postgraduate entrants from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups went up – the percentage of White entrants went down

  • the number of entrants from each of the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups was highest in the 2019 to 2020 academic year

  • the number of White entrants was highest in the 2018 to 2019 academic year

2. Things you need to know

The data measures the number of students who started full-time and part-time postgraduate study in the UK, by ethnicity.

The student’s first year of study does not have to be the first year of a postgraduate course. For example, the data includes students joining the second year of a part-time postgraduate course.

Postgraduate study is predominantly master’s degrees, such as a Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MSc).

The data only includes students whose normal residence before starting their study was in the UK, Guernsey and Jersey (including their smaller islands) and the Isle of Man.

Student numbers are rounded to the nearest 5. Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place, and have been calculated using unrounded student numbers.

Not included in the data

Students from outside the UK are not asked to report their ethnicity and are not included.

The ethnic groups used in the data

Data is shown for 5 aggregated ethnic groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

This means figures are shown for these groups as a whole.

Students record their own ethnicity, either when they apply for a course or when they register with a higher education provider. The percentages are based only on students whose ethnicity was known (97% of first year postgraduate entrants in the 2019 to 2020 academic year).

Methodology

Read the detailed methodology document for the data on this page.

The figures from August 2016 may have been affected by:

  • the launch of a postgraduate loan scheme in the 2016 to 2017 academic year
  • the inclusion of ‘alternative providers’ in the data – these are higher education providers who do not receive public funding

3. By ethnicity over time

Percentage and number of first year entrants onto postgraduate study by ethnicity
Asian Black Mixed White Other
Year Asian % Asian Number Black % Black Number Mixed % Mixed Number White % White Number Other % Other Number
2015/16 9.4 17,095 6.1 11,065 3.1 5,585 79.8 144,570 1.6 2,940
2016/17 9.5 19,755 7.8 16,185 3.3 6,830 77.7 161,835 1.7 3,585
2017/18 10.1 21,775 7.4 16,095 3.4 7,405 77.2 167,045 1.8 3,970
2018/19 10.4 22,890 7.3 16,030 3.6 7,935 76.8 168,850 1.9 4,255
2019/20 10.7 23,745 7.4 16,435 3.7 8,235 76.1 168,335 2.0 4,470

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of First year entrants onto postgraduate study By ethnicity over time Summary

The data shows that:

  • in the 5 academic years to July 2020, the percentage of postgraduate entrants from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups combined went up from 20.2% to 23.8%

  • the number of students from these groups went up by around 16,200 to 52,885

  • the percentage of entrants who were Asian went up from 9.4% to 10.7%, and the percentage who were Black went up from 6.1% to 7.4% – the biggest increases out of all ethnic groups

  • the percentage of entrants who were White went down from 79.8% to 76.1% – the only decrease out of all ethnic groups

4. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Higher Education Statistics Agency

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

Student information collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency is used for:

  • funding
  • performance indicators
  • publications (including UNISTATS)
  • league tables

The student record includes:

  • their entry profile and personal characteristics
  • module and course-level data
  • funding information
  • their qualifications

5. Download the data

First year entrants onto postgraduate study - Spreadsheet (csv) 5 KB

Measure, Academic Year, Ethnicity, Ethnicity Type, Value, Value Type, Numerator, Denominator