In 2018/19 there were 2.6 million students doing higher education at UK higher education institutions, further education colleges and at alternative providers. About two thirds of these are studying first degrees, 1 in 5 studying a masters, 1 in 20 doing a PhD and 1 in 10 on other undergraduate courses.
Females made up a greater share of students at every level other than for PhDs, where males made up 51.0% of all students, despite females making up a greater share of overall postgraduate students. The share of females also rose at every level between 2017/18 and 2018/19, increasing from 56.7% to 57.2% overall.
The most popular subject group studied in higher education in the UK is business & administrative studies with 410,000 students (16% of all students), followed by social sciences (including law) (14%) and subjects allied to medicine (12%).
There are clear differences in the subject group figures by gender:
- Females were more likely to enrol in both subjects allied to medicine and social sciences (including law) than males. 16% of all female students enrolled in each of these subjects whereas for males the figures were 6% and 12% respectively.
- For males the most popular subjects were business & administrative studies (19% of all male students) followed by engineering and technology (13%). Males were also much more likely to enrol in both engineering & technology (13%) and mathematical and computing sciences (12%), whereas for females the percentages were only 2 and 3% respectively.
These figures are available in the underlying data for 2016/17 to 2018/19, as well as figures by level of education and mode of study.
Data on the total number of national and overseas students is also available, by gender, level of education and mode of study.
The number of students in further education in the UK continued to decrease in 2018/19, falling by 3.3% compared to 2017/18. The number of students fell by 4.5% in England and by 4.3% in Northern Ireland, but increased by 10.4% in Scotland and by 3.1% in Wales.
Further information on the demographics of further education students (gender, age and mode of study), as well as the number of colleges and staff, can be found in the underlying data.