Academic Year 2018/19

Higher Level Learners in England

This is the latest dataAd Hoc Statistics

This ad hoc statistical publication presents an overview of participation in higher-level learning at Further Education Providers (FEPs) and Higher Education Providers (HEPs) for English-domiciled learners in England in the academic year 2018/19. Throughout this publication, higher-level learning refers to learning at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) levels 4 to 8. Qualifications covered are at a higher level than A levels or equivalent, and include a range of qualification aims, such as foundation degrees, first degrees and Doctorates.

The statistics provide a holistic view of higher-level learning across the further and higher education sectors. All types of learning are covered, including OfS-recognised higher education (recognised by the Office for Students for funding purposes and generally eligible for student loan support), Apprenticeships (funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency and employers, where students earn whilst learning) and institutional credit (bite-sized, standalone modules of learning which are not regarded as full qualifications).

The statistics show how higher-level skills provision was organised in 2018/19 and aid our understanding of the potential impacts of the government’s skills reforms. In particular, it will assist future policy understanding for Higher Technical Qualification (HTQ) reform and the flexible Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE). 

The publication presents analysis of the further and higher education sectors after combining two separate data sources:

  • The Education and Skills Funding Agency’s (ESFA) Individualised Learner Record (ILR) data for FEPs, and
  • The Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) Student and Alternative Student records for HEPs.

Statistics on learning in further and higher education have typically been published as separate publications. This makes it complicated to quantify the totality of learning that happens at education levels 4 to 8. Combined FE and HE statistics are particularly important for understanding learning at education levels 4 and 5, as this is delivered roughly equally across both sectors.

Academic year 2018/19 data is the latest year published. Whilst DfE holds data for 2019/20, this still needs extensive data processing which has not been completed. DfE is publishing the analysis that is readily available now, to meet user needs on transparency, timeliness and quality. 

DfE would welcome feedback on this release, including whether it ought to be updated in future, and which data categorisations are more useful and relevant to users. If you have feedback, please email your comments to

Headline facts and figures - 2018/19

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