Foundation years participation, provision and outcomes at HE providers in 2021 to 2022



This document contains supporting information for the statistical release ‘Foundation Year statistics’, including further detail on the data sources, data processing and data quality of these statistics overall.

Data processing

Data that includes subject is a count of full-person equivalent (FPE). This means that where an enrolment or achievement spans multiple subjects, it is apportioned to reflect the proportion of the learner that relates to each subject (e.g. a student enrolled in a course equally distributed between engineering & technology and computer science is counted with 0.5 FPE for each subject).

Population ‘in-scope’ - Enrolments

Students in the HESA ‘Student’ and ‘Student Alternative’ records were included if they met the following criteria:

•The student is included in the standard registration population.

•The student is studying at a Higher Education Provider based in England.

•The student was domiciled in the United Kingdom prior to study (excluding Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man)

Most of the data included in this release refers to academic year 2021/22. Time series data for academic years 2010/11 - 2019/20 have also been included at summary level.

Data quality and comparability

Disclosure control

The  Code of Practice for Official Statistics (opens in a new tab)  requires DfE to take reasonable steps to ensure that its published or disseminated statistics protect confidentiality. 

Throughout the publication, all numbers are rounded to the nearest 5 to preserve confidentiality. Percentages are calculated on pre-rounded data but are not published if they are fractions of a small group of people (fewer than 22.5). 

Due to rounding, it is possible that the sum of the category percentages may not always total to 100%. 

Technical information

Documentation of raw HESA fields can be found at the following links. All fields present are raw from HESA, with the exception of internal (DfE) derived fields. (opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab)

NA values

"NA" occurs for unknown cases (often because the coverage [in each documentation link] is out of scope, e.g. non-UK domiciled students inherently not having POLAR data)

"NA" occurs for all students at Alternative Providers ([HESA_SOURCE] = 'Y21_22_AP_Student') for variables "FEEELIG" and "ELQ" as these variables are not collected by HESA for APs.

Rounding and suppression

Where analysis reflects unpublished HESA data, outputs have been rounded and supressed in line with HESA guidance found here Rounding and suppression to anonymise statistics | HESA (opens in a new tab)

Filters used

For general analysis of foundation year students, we would be looking to cut the data using the following filters:

·XPSR01 = '1' --population definition

·YEARPRG = '0' --Foundation Year identifier

·XFYRSR01='1' --First year identifier (entrants)

·XINSTC01='E' –English providers (HEI’s in England)

·XHOOS01 ='1' and XDOMGR01!='Z' --home students excluding Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man (as these students aren’t eligible for student tuition loans)

·XLEV501 = '3' --first degree

·XMODE301 = '1' --studying full-time (including sandwich) - we only want to include those which get the full student tuition loan

As well as this, only providers who have registered as “Approved (fee cap)” by the OfS are included in the analyses. 

For our counterfactual for “all undergraduates”, thus far we have been filtering specifically to look at those which ARE NOT foundation year students (given that Foundation Year’s are a subset of the overall UG population). As such, we would use the same filters as above, but replace YEARPRG == 0 with YEARPRG != 0. As such, we are then able to sum to two figures to provide an overarching UG figure which matches with HESA.

Figure 3 - HE student enrolments by level of study 2017/18 to 2021/22 | HESA (opens in a new tab)

Side note: We are aware that this approach undercounts the counterfactual as it does not include students where YEARPRG == "NA".

DfE derived fields

Foundation year entrant figures reflect UK domiciled students (excluding those domiciled in Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man) on first degrees, studying full-time at HE providers based in England. These entrants reflect those part of the standard HE registration population.

HESA collects data from HE providers from approved and approved (fee cap), the data in these statistics filter for only those which are approved (fee cap). 

Foundation year entrant figures have been rounded in line with HESA guidance.

Highest Qualification on Entry

•level of highest qualification on entry, derived from QUALENT3.  Note: integrated masters students are coded as level 7, in line with the NQF framework

Age Grouping

•Age grouped into young/mature

Disability Status

•grouping of DISABLE into whether known/unknown disability

POLAR Quintile

•POLAR (participation of local areas) quintile, obtained by merging HESA's POSTCODE to OfS postcode-POLAR lookup to obtain quintiles for UK domiciled students.  Note: "R" refers to unknown.  NA occurs when students do not having a POSTCODE (i.e. usually international). (opens in a new tab)


•Latest version of the Common Aggregate Hierarchy: v1.3.4 taken from (opens in a new tab)


•  Joint academic coding system, replaced by CAH in 2019/20. Further documentation can be found here: JACS | HESA (opens in a new tab)


• Refers to socioeconomic classification. This collects the socio-economic background of students aged 21 and over at the start of their course, or for students under 21 the socio-economic background of their parent, step-parent or guardian who earns the most is returned. It is based on occupation, and if the parent or guardian is retired or unemployed, this is based on their most recent occupation. Further information can be found here: Socio economic classification (SEC) | HESA (opens in a new tab)

OfS Student typology

•Office for Students grouping of providers explained in figure 4 using the link below: Provider typologies 2022 - Methodology for grouping OfS-registered providers ( (opens in a new tab)

Russell Group

•binary marker for whether a provider is one of the 24 members of the Russell Group (opens in a new tab)


•Based on HESA XETHNIC01 field. “Black” grouping reflects Black or Black British – Caribbean, African, and Other Black background. “Asian” grouping reflects Asian or Asian British Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, and other Asian background. “Mixed and Other” grouping reflects Other (including mixed), and Ethnicity not known.

HESA graduate outcomes

Figures reflect 2020/21 HESA data. Figures reflect UK domiciled students on first degrees at English providers.

Source: HESA graduate outcomes survey data Graduate Outcomes data and statistics 2020/21 | HESA (opens in a new tab) . Data is collected approximately 15 months (opens in a new tab) after HE course completion.

In line with HESA guidance, all populations are rounded to the nearest 5 full person equivalent (FPE) individuals; c = data has been supressed due to small numbers. Percentages are suppressed where they are based on small groups of people (less than 22.5 FPE). (opens in a new tab)

Employment and/or further study: Graduate activities that are not included in employment or further study are 'Other including travel, caring for someone or retired’, ‘Unemployed and due to start work’, ‘Unemployed and due to start further study’ and ‘Unemployment’. (opens in a new tab). Thus, XACTIVITY codes 01 to 08 inclusive count towards this metric.

Highly skilled employment: Defined using the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2020. More details about skill level grouping is available here: (opens in a new tab). Those counted were working in the UK and said their most important activity was work during the census week. Counts are on the basis of full-person-equivalents (FPE). Where a student is studying more than one subject, they are apportioned between the subjects that make up their course.

Subject:  This is split using the Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH). Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH) | HESA (opens in a new tab)

POLAR quintile: Measures the proportion of young people who participate in higher education:

SEC: (opens in a new tab). Socio-economic classification of students participating in HE if 21 or over at the start of their course or parental classification if under 21.

Grades group: (opens in a new tab). A total of their UCAS tariff points on entry (and equivalent as A-level grades).  NB: not all qualifications are tariffable

Provider Tariff: see Annex A on page 20: (opens in a new tab)

LEO graduate outcomes

•Earnings figures are rounded to the nearest £100. Employment outcome percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.1%. All populations are rounded to the nearest 5 full person equivalent (FPE) individuals; c = data has been supressed due to small numbers. In the 2019/20 tax year, five years after graduation relates to those who graduated during the 2013/14 academic year. The following suppression rules have been applied: Employment outcomes based on less than 2.5 full person equivalent (FPE) have been suppressed. Earnings outcomes based on less than 11 FPE have been suppressed. .

•Data source: Higher Education Longitudinal Education Outcomes (HESA, ILR, NPD, DWP, HMRC)

•Earnings and employment outcomes of UK domiciled first degree graduates who studied at English Higher Education Providers, by subject (CAH2)


Matched graduates: We refer to a graduate as matched if they have been successfully matched to the Department for Work and Pensions’ Customer Information System (CIS) or if they have been matched to a further study instance on the HESA Student Record. Graduates that are matched but are known to be overseas are excluded.

Activity not captured: Graduates in this category have been successfully matched to CIS but do not have any employment, out-of-work benefits or further study records in the tax year of interest. Reasons for appearing in this category include: moving out of the UK after graduation for either work or study, voluntarily leaving the labour force or death. 

No sustained destination: Graduates who have an employment or out-of-work benefits record in the tax year in question but were not classified as being in ‘sustained employment’ and do not have a further study record.

Sustained employment defined by P45 data: The ‘sustained employment’ measure aims to count the proportion of graduates in sustained employment in the UK following the completion of their course. This definition looks at employment activity in the six-month October to March period of each tax year. A graduate needs to be in paid employment for at least one day in five out of six months between October and March of a given tax year to be classified as being in ‘sustained employment’ in the given tax year. If they are not employed in March, they must additionally have at least one day in employment in the April of the same calendar year to be counted as being in sustained employment.  

Sustained employment defined by self-assessment data: This analysis incorporates self-assessment data into measures of sustained employment. Self-assessment data captures the activity of individuals with income that is not taxed through PAYE, such as income from self-employment, savings and investments, property rental, and shares. Individuals are classed as being in sustained employment in the tax year if they meet the definition of sustained employment based on PAYE or have returned a self-assessment form stating that they have received income from self-employment and their earnings from a Partnership or Sole-Trader enterprise are more than £0 (profit from self-employment). 

Further study: A graduate is defined as being in further study if they have a valid higher education study record at any UK HEI on the HESA Student Record or designated English Alternative Provider (AP) on the AP HESA Student Record that overlaps the relevant tax year. Further study undertaken at further education colleges is not reflected in the figures. The further study does not have to be at postgraduate level to be counted. 

Earnings: Earnings figures are only reported for those classified as being in sustained employment via PAYE and where we have a valid earnings record from the P14 or where they are self-employed and have reported income of over £0 for that tax year. Those in further study are excluded, as their earnings would be more likely to relate to part-time jobs.

For further details on the definitions of earnings and employment outcomes and other aspects of the LEO data, see the LEO methodology document Graduate outcomes (LEO), Methodology – Explore education statistics – GOV.UK (

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Higher education analysis

Contact name: Matt Poullin

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