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Students in higher education institutions

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  • Release date: 11 January 2018
  • Period covered: 2016/17
An annual report, produced by Higher Education Statistics Agency, which provides details of student enrolments and qualifications.

Numbers of students on Higher Education courses at Welsh Further Education Institutions (FEIs) are available from 2016/17 onwards. They are not included in the analysis below as there is no historic data to compare with; however the data can be viewed using the Coverage marker in the related StatsWales tables.

Key points

Higher education enrolments by students from Wales

  • In 2016/17, the number of students from Wales enrolled in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) continued its seven year decline, falling to 97,095.
  • The fall came from a decrease in the number of part-time students, who dropped by 2,050 (6%) in 2016/17.
  • For every 10 males enrolled at a university, there were 14 females.
  • The most popular subject group was Subjects Allied to Medicine, with nursing enrolments comprising most of these.

Higher education enrolments in Wales

  • Enrollments at Welsh universities declined slightly for a fifth year, to 128,005 in 2016/17.
  • The drop was due in part to a fall in the number of students from Wales studying part-time which decreased by 2,085 (7%).
  • Full-time undergraduates increased again to the highest number on record, at 79,780.
  • Almost half of postgraduates studied part-time, compared to nearly a quarter of undergraduates.
  • Over half of students at Welsh universities came from Wales before they began study.
  • The most popular subject group at Welsh universities in 2016/17 was Biological Sciences, closely followed by Business & Administrative Studies.

Cross border flows of full-time students

  • Wales is a net importer of full-time students from the UK. In 2016/17 Wales accepted 9,350 more students from other UK countries than it sent to them.
  • There were 35,390 students from other UK countries at Welsh universities, compared to 26,040 students from Wales studying at HEIs in the rest of the UK.
  • Two fifths of undergraduates from Wales studied in England, as did just over one third of postgraduates from Wales.

Higher education qualifications

  • The number of qualifications awarded to students from Wales increased to 28,025 in 2016/17.
  • Just over three quarters of qualifications awarded to students from Wales were undergraduate.
  • The number of qualifications awarded by universities in Wales remained fairly constant in 2016/17, at 40,370.


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