First year entrants onto undergraduate study


This page has been archived.
It has been replaced by First year entrants onto undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

1. Main facts and figures

New data for the period August 2015 to July 2021 is available if you download the data. The charts, tables and commentary on this page cover the period August 2015 to July 2020 and do not include the new data.

  • 580,520 people started undergraduate study at a UK higher education provider in the 2019 to 2020 academic year – this only includes students who were UK residents before their study and whose ethnicity was known

  • in the 5 years to July 2020, the number and percentage of White undergraduate entrants went down – they went up for all other ethnic groups, with the Asian ethnic group having the biggest increase

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

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

Undergraduate study is predominantly bachelor’s degrees, such as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BSc). Students must be on courses that lead to the award of a qualification or higher education credit.

The student’s first year of study does not have to be the first year of an undergraduate programme.

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 (98% of first year undergraduate entrants in the 2020 to 2021 academic year).


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

3. By ethnicity over time

Percentage and number of first year entrants on undergraduate 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 10.5 61,545 8.2 48,335 3.8 22,125 76.0 446,040 1.5 8,715
2016/17 11.0 63,540 8.5 49,140 4.0 22,925 75.0 434,580 1.6 9,290
2017/18 11.3 65,335 8.6 49,860 4.1 23,565 74.2 428,565 1.8 10,345
2018/19 11.5 66,635 8.5 49,300 4.2 24,460 73.9 427,040 1.8 10,175
2019/20 12.2 70,660 8.7 50,655 4.5 25,840 72.6 421,730 2.0 11,635

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

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

The data shows that:

  • 72.6% of people starting undergraduate study in the 2019 to 2020 academic year were White

  • 12.2% were Asian, 8.7% were Black, 4.5% had Mixed ethnicity, and 2.0% were from the Other ethnic group

  • in the 5 years to July 2020, the percentage of entrants from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups combined went up from 24.0% to 27.4%

  • the percentage of Asian entrants went up from 10.5% to 12.2% – the biggest increase out of all ethnic groups

  • the percentage of White entrants went down from 76.0% to 72.6% – the only decrease out of all ethnic groups

4. Data sources


Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

National Statistics


Higher Education Statistics Agency

Publication frequency


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 To Undergraduate Study -2020-21 - Spreadsheet (csv) 3 KB

The file contains the following: measure, time, time_type, ethnicity, ethnicity_type, value, value_type, numerator, denominator