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Details of student enrolments and qualifications for September 2020 to August 2021.

Main points

Welsh students enrolled in UK higher education providers (HEPs)  

  • The number of students from Wales enrolled in UK HEPs increased by 6.4% from 102,665 in 2019/20 to 109,190 in 2020/21.
  • There was a 3.6% rise in the number of undergraduate students from Wales; from 83,800 in 2019/20 to 86,845 in 2020/21. This increase predominantly came from a rise in the number of part-time undergraduates which increased by 8.0%; from 22,830 in 2019/20 to 24,665 students in 2020/21.
  • There was an 18.4% rise in the number of postgraduate students from Wales; from 18,865 in 2019/20 to 22,345 in 2020/21.
  • For every two men enrolled at a HEP, there were three women.

Enrolments in Welsh higher education  providers

  • Enrolments at Welsh HEPs have increased by 6.5%; from 136,370 in 2019/20 to 145,175 in 2020/21.
  • The number of full-time undergraduates has increased by 3.2%; from 82,275 in 2019/20 to 84,890 in 2020/21. 
  • The number of part-time undergraduate students has increased by 5.5%; from 24,845 in 2019/20 to 26,205 in 2020/21.
  • The number of postgraduate students increased by 16.5%; from 29,240 in 2019/20 to 34,075 in 2020/21.  
  • 40.1% of postgraduates studied part-time, compared to 23.6% of undergraduates.
  • Just over half of students at Welsh HEPs came from Wales before they began study.
  • The most popular subject group at Welsh HEPs in 2020/21 was Business and management, followed by Subjects allied to medicine.

Cross border flows of full-time students

  • Wales is a net importer of full-time students from the UK.
  • There were 40,680 full-time students from other UK countries at Welsh HEPs, compared to 27,690 full-time students from Wales studying at HEPs in the rest of the UK.
  • 37.6% full-time undergraduates from Wales studied in England, and 34.2% full-time postgraduates from Wales studied in England.

Higher education qualifications

  • The number of qualifications awarded to students from Wales increased by 6.2%; from 28,515 in 2019/20 to 30,290 in 2020/21.
  • Just under three quarters of qualifications awarded to students from Wales were undergraduate.
  • The number of qualifications awarded by universities in Wales increased by 7.8%; from 40,250 in 2019/20 to 43,390 in 2020/21.
  • This increase can be attributed to the significant decrease in qualifications from 2018/19 to 2019/20. This decrease was due to a few providers who experienced administrative hold-ups related to the COVID-19 pandemic which began in the 2019/20 academic year. As such, qualifications that were not reported in the 2019/20 academic year were carried over to 2020/21

Higher education at further education institutions (FEIs) in Wales

  • The number of students on higher education courses at FEIs in Wales has decreased by 17.4%; from 1,580 in 2019/20 to 1,305 in 2020/21.

The data included are taken primarily from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Student Record and based on the HESA standard registration population, which includes student enrolments throughout the year. HESA currently publish combined data from both the HESA Student record and the HESA Student alternative record. As such, figures published by HESA and Stats Wales may differ

Further information

Subject level StatsWales tables have not been updated due to an issue with subject codes changing between years. These tables will be updated in the coming weeks when the issue is resolved.



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Abi Woodham

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