Undergraduate degree results

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • 359,115 people graduated from an undergraduate degree in the 2020 to 2021 academic year – this only includes students who were UK residents before their degree and whose ethnicity was known
  • 39.4% of white graduates got a first class degree, compared with 20.0% of black graduates – the highest and lowest percentages out of all ethnic groups
  • graduates from the mixed (47.6%) and black (47.1%) ethnic groups were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to get an upper second class degree (commonly known as a ‘2:1’)
  • the percentage gap between white and black graduates getting a first class or 2:1 degree went down from 26.2% in 2014 to 2015, to 18.6% in 2020 to 2021

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

The data shows the results of students on undergraduate degrees in the UK, by ethnicity.

Undergraduate degrees are usually bachelor's degrees, such as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BSc).

The data only includes students whose normal residence before starting their degree 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 calculated using rounded numbers, and are rounded to 1 decimal place.

Not included in the data

The percentages do not include students whose degree was ‘unclassified’. This includes some degrees (such as medical degrees) that can be awarded without a classification. The number of students with unclassified degrees is shown in the table in the analysis by ethnicity.

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 degree course or when they register with a higher education provider. The percentages are based only on students whose ethnicity was known. See the data for students whose ethnicity was not known.

Methodology

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

The 2019 to 2020 academic year was affected by COVID-19. Because of this, many higher education providers said their students would not be given a degree result that was worse than the last time they were assessed before the pandemic. This may partly account for the higher percentage of first class degrees in the 2019 to 2020 academic year.

For the 2020 to 2021 academic year, many of the COVID-19 policies introduced by higher education providers were discontinued. However, some higher education providers introduced modified mitigation policies which were designed to take into consideration the ongoing difficulties faced by students. Degree classifications awarded in 2020 to 2021 may reflect these policies.

3. By ethnicity

Percentage and number of graduates within each ethnic group achieving the different degree classifications
1st class honours Upper 2nd class honours Lower 2nd, 3rd or pass Unclassified
Ethnicity 1st class honours % of each ethnicity 1st class honours Number of students Upper 2nd class honours % of each ethnicity Upper 2nd class honours Number of students Lower 2nd, 3rd or pass % of each ethnicity Lower 2nd, 3rd or pass Number of students Unclassified % of each ethnicity Unclassified Number of students
Asian 33.3 13,490 46.6 18,895 20.1 8,140 N/A* 2,655
Black 20.0 4,880 47.1 11,510 32.9 8,045 N/A* 660
Mixed 35.6 5,375 47.6 7,195 16.8 2,530 N/A* 610
White 39.4 101,220 46.3 118,945 14.3 36,815 N/A* 12,120
Other 30.8 1,765 46.3 2,650 22.9 1,310 N/A* 290

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

Summary of Undergraduate degree results By ethnicity Summary

The data shows that:

  • 39.4% of white graduates got a first class degree – the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups, followed by graduates with mixed ethnic backgrounds (35.6%)
  • 20.0% of black graduates got a first class degree – the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • 47.1% of black graduates and 46.3% of white graduates got a 2:1

4. By ethnicity over time

Percentage and number of graduates within each ethnic group who got the different degree classifications, over time
Asian Black Mixed White Other
Academic year Asian 1st class honours Asian Upper 2nd class honours Asian Lower 2nd, 3rd or pass Black 1st class honours Black Upper 2nd class honours Black Lower 2nd, 3rd or pass Mixed 1st class honours Mixed Upper 2nd class honours Mixed Lower 2nd, 3rd or pass White 1st class honours White Upper 2nd class honours White Lower 2nd, 3rd or pass Other 1st class honours Other Upper 2nd class honours Other Lower 2nd, 3rd or pass
2014/15 17.7 47.5 34.9 9.7 41.1 49.2 19.6 52.4 28.0 24.7 52.4 23.0 16.9 45.5 37.6
2015/16 18.3 47.9 33.8 10.6 41.9 47.5 20.7 51.5 27.7 26.3 52.0 21.8 17.4 47.0 35.7
2016/17 20.6 48.2 31.1 11.9 42.6 45.5 24.1 50.2 25.7 28.5 50.9 20.6 20.1 46.7 33.1
2017/18 22.5 47.7 29.8 13.4 42.5 44.0 26.1 50.6 23.2 30.7 50.0 19.3 21.4 45.6 33.0
2018/19 22.8 47.3 29.9 14.0 43.7 42.3 26.1 50.3 23.7 31.4 49.8 18.8 22.2 44.4 33.4
2019/20 30.3 47.2 22.4 19.1 46.7 34.2 33.2 49.0 17.8 38.2 47.6 14.1 28.0 47.2 24.8
2020/21 33.3 46.6 20.1 20.0 47.1 32.9 35.6 47.6 16.8 39.4 46.3 14.3 30.8 46.3 22.9

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

Summary of Undergraduate degree results By ethnicity over time Summary

The data shows that:

  • in the 7 academic years to July 2021, the percentage of graduates who got a first class or 2:1 degree went up in every ethnic group
  • the biggest increases were in the black ethnic group (from 50.8% to 67.1%) and Asian ethnic group (from 65.1% to 79.9%)
  • the smallest increase was in the white ethnic group (from 77.0% to 85.7%)
  • the percentage gap between white and black graduates getting a first class or 2:1 degree went down from 26.2% in the 2014 to 2015 academic year, to 18.6% in 2020 to 2021

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. It is used by various stakeholders for:

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

The student record collects individual data, 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 2014-2021 - Spreadsheet (csv) 21 KB

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