Undergraduate degree results

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2017/18, 339,475 people graduated from an undergraduate degree (only counting those who were UK residents before their degree and whose ethnicity was known)
  • 30.9% of White graduates achieved a first class degree, compared with 14.0% of Black graduates (the highest and lowest percentages respectively out of all ethnic groups)
  • graduates with Mixed ethnicity were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to achieve an upper-second class (2:1) degree, with 50.9% doing so
  • the difference between the percentage of White and Black graduates achieving a first class or 2:1 degree decreased by 3 percentage points between 2012/13 and 2017/18
Things you need to know

The data refers to undergraduate students who started a course at a university, college or other higher education institution in the UK.

The data only includes students whose normal residence before starting their degree was in the UK, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. (Guernsey and Jersey in this context refer to the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey, which includes their smaller islands.)

Entrants from outside the UK are not asked to report their ethnic origin and are therefore not included.

Percentages shown refer to graduates who were awarded a classified degree. Some first degrees, such as medical degrees, can be awarded without a classification and are therefore shown as ‘unclassified’.

What the data measures

The data includes full-time and part-time students achieving an undergraduate degree (usually a bachelor's degree like a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) or Bachelor of Law (LLB)).

Students must have been UK residents before enrolling onto their degree.

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
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

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)
Percentage and number of graduates within each ethnic group achieving the different degree classifications
1st class Upper 2nd class Lower 2nd/3rd class/pass Unclassified
Ethnicity 1st class % of each ethnicity 1st class Number of students Upper 2nd class % of each ethnicity Upper 2nd class Number of students Lower 2nd/3rd class/pass % of each ethnicity Lower 2nd/3rd class/pass Number of students Unclassified % of each ethnicity Unclassified Number of students
Asian 22.7 7,845 47.9 16,555 29.5 10,190 N/A* 2,705
Black 14.0 2,970 43.5 9,245 42.5 9,035 N/A* 720
Mixed 26.3 3,330 50.9 6,430 22.8 2,885 N/A* 535
White 30.9 76,575 50.0 124,000 19.1 47,345 N/A* 14,490
Other 21.8 940 46.1 1,990 32.2 1,390 N/A* 300
Unknown 18.4 1,030 35.3 1,970 46.3 2,585 N/A* 570

Download table data for ‘Degree classifications by ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Degree classifications by ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Undergraduate degree results Degree classifications by ethnicity Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2017/18, there were 262,415 White graduates from undergraduate courses in the UK, 37,290 Asian graduates, 21,975 Black graduates, 13,175 graduates from a Mixed background, and 4,620 graduates from Other ethnic groups – these figures only include those who were UK residents before their degree and whose ethnicity was known
  • of those that achieved a classified degree, 30.9% of White graduates from undergraduate courses achieved a first class degree, the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups, followed by 26.3% of graduates with Mixed ethnicity
  • White graduates were over twice as likely to get a first class degree as Black graduates, who were the least likely of all ethnic groups to achieve a first class degree (with 14.0% doing so)
  • 50.0% of White graduates achieved an upper second class degree (2:1), compared with 43.5% of Black graduates

3. Degree classifications by ethnicity over time

Percentage and number of graduates within each ethnic group achieving the different degree classifications, over time
2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Ethnicity 2012/13 1st class 2012/13 Upper 2nd class 2012/13 Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass 2013/14 1st class 2013/14 Upper 2nd class 2013/14 Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass 2014/15 1st class 2014/15 Upper 2nd class 2014/15 Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass 2015/16 1st class 2015/16 Upper 2nd class 2015/16 Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass 2016/17 1st class 2016/17 Upper 2nd class 2016/17 Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass 2017/18 1st class 2017/18 Upper 2nd class 2017/18 Lower 2nd, 3rd class or pass
Asian 13.5 46.3 40.2 15.0 48.1 36.9 17.7 47.5 34.8 18.4 48.0 33.5 20.8 48.4 30.8 22.7 47.9 29.5
Black 7.5 39.3 53.2 8.8 40.8 50.5 9.8 41.0 49.2 10.9 42.2 46.9 12.3 43.3 44.5 14.0 43.5 42.5
Mixed 16.4 50.7 32.9 18.1 52.7 29.3 19.6 52.5 27.9 20.9 51.6 27.5 24.2 50.3 25.5 26.3 50.9 22.8
White 20.4 52.8 26.8 22.4 53.3 24.4 24.7 52.4 22.9 26.4 52.0 21.7 28.6 50.9 20.5 30.9 50.0 19.1
Other 13.3 46.2 40.5 15.0 47.5 37.5 17.1 45.5 37.4 17.7 47.1 35.3 20.5 46.8 32.8 21.8 46.1 32.2
Unknown 14.5 37.1 48.4 14.8 36.5 48.8 15.3 36.4 48.4 15.1 36.2 48.7 16.9 37.1 46.0 18.4 35.3 46.3

Download table data for ‘Degree classifications by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Degree classifications by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Undergraduate degree results Degree classifications by ethnicity over time Summary

This data shows that:

  • between 2012/13 and 2017/18, the percentage of graduates achieving a first class or 2:1 degree increased for all ethnic groups
  • the largest increases were seen in the Asian (10.8 percentage points) and Black (10.7 percentage points) ethnic groups, and the smallest increase was in the White ethnic group (7.7 percentage points)
  • in the same period, the difference between the percentages of graduates from White and Black backgrounds achieving either a first class or 2:1 degree decreased by 3 percentage points (from 26.4 to 23.4 percentage points)

4. Methodology

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.

Rounding

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

Related publications

Analysis published by the Office for Students investigates these differences in more depth.

Quality and methodology information

Further technical information

Rounding and suppression to anonymise statistics.

5. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

Higher Education Statistics Agency

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

Student information collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency is used extensively by various stakeholders for higher education:

  • funding
  • 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

Undergraduate degree results - Spreadsheet (csv) 17 KB

Measure, Ethnic Group, Academic Year, Classification of first degree, Count, Value