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Statistics Publication Notice: Lifelong Learning Series: Higher Education Students and Qualifiers at Scottish Institutions 2009-10

Statistical information on students and qualifiers from higher education courses at Scottish institutions.


Key Findings

Students:

Students and Institutions:

1. In 2009-10, there were 287,565 students in higher education ( HE) in Scotland. This represents an increase of 7,950 students (or 2.8 percent) since 2008-09. The largest increase in the number of students in HE occurred amongst those studying first degrees, increasing by 8,455 (or 6.1 percent) from 137,720 in 2008-09 to 146,175 in 2009-10. First degrees are the most common level of study with half of all students in Scottish HE studying at this level. Only study at the level of other higher education saw a decrease in the number of students (from 50,050 in 2008-09 to 45,205 in 2009-10) ( Table 1).

2. The number of students in higher education institutions ( HEIs) increased by 6,505 (or 2.8 percent) from 231,260 in 2008-09 to 237,765 in 2009-10. At the same time the number of students participating in HE in colleges also increased, by 1,445 (or 3.0 percent) from 48,355 in 2008-09 to 49,800 in 2009-10 ( Table 1).

3. HEIs account for 82.7 percent of all students enrolled in Scottish HE in 2009-10, with the remaining 17.3 percent studying HE at colleges. Nearly all those studying HE at colleges (98.5 percent) were studying at the sub-degree level, whilst a majority of those at HEIs (61.2 percent) were studying at the first degree level ( Table 1).

4. Whilst the total number of students studying HE at HEIs increased by 6,505 (or 2.8 percent) between 2008-09 and 2009-10, the change by institution was much more varied. Some HEIs witnessed a sharper than average increase in student numbers, for example the Scottish Agricultural College (up 24.1 percent), Heriot-Watt University (up 8.3 percent) and Edinburgh College of Art (up 8.1 percent). Despite the overall increase in student numbers, some HEIs witnessed a fall in student numbers between 2008-09 and 2009-10, such as; Glasgow Caledonian University (down 4.0 percent) the University of the West of Scotland (down 2.6 percent) and UHI Millennium Institute (down 2.1 percent) ( Table 2).

5. The colleges that saw the sharpest increase in enrolments since 2008-09 were Oatridge Agricultural College with an increase of 30.6% (though from a small base of 60 students), Barony College (25.0%, from a base of 180 students) and Clydebank College (18.0%). However, some colleges had a decrease in enrolments, Banff & Buchan College of Further Education had a decrease in enrolments of 15.2% on 2008-09, West Lothian College had a decrease of 7.4% and Forth Valley College had a decrease of 6.4% ( Table 3).

Student Characteristics and Choices:

6. A majority of those in HE in Scotland in 2009-10 were female (55.8 percent or 160,565). 44.2 percent or 126,995 students were male. In 2000-01, the gender split amongst students was 55.9 percent female to 44.1 percent male. It then grew steadily larger to 57.8 percent female to 42.2 percent male by 2005-06. Since then it has narrowed back slightly. The increase in students in HE levels between 2008-09 and 2009-10 was sharper amongst males (growing 4,580 or 3.7 percent) than females (growing 3,370 or 2.1 percent) ( Table 6).

7. The number of distance learning students has increased by 1,645 (5.2 percent) since 2008-09 from 31,850 to 33,495. This increase was due to the rise of 1,685 (7.9 percent) in the number of first degree and postgraduate distance learning students from 19,650 in 2008-09 to 21,335 in 2009-10. At first degree level 60.5 percent of distance learners were female and 39.5 percent were male. The gender gap was similar for other undergraduate study with 62.3 percent female compared to 37.7 percent male. However, at postgraduate level male distance learners accounted for the majority, with 53.9 percent of the enrolments compared to females at 46.1 percent ( Table 7).

8. Whilst the number of people enrolled in HE increased by 2.8 percent overall, this was driven by an increase in enrolments amongst those aged 16 to 29. Enrolments amongst this group increased by 9,450 (or 4.8 percent) from 195,180 in 2008-09 to 204,630 in 2009-10. In contrast, the number of enrolments amongst those aged 30 to 60 decreased by 1,745 (or 2.2 percent) from 79,380 in 2008-09 to 77,635 in 2009-10 ( Table 8).

9. The HE courses in Scotland with the largest overall numbers of students in 2009-10 were in business administration with 47,475 enrolled. Subjects allied to medicine were the second most common with 33,610 students participating in 2009-10. Changes in the number of students on each HE course between 2008-09 and 2009-10 were variable. There was a 7.8 percent increase in the number of students studying biological sciences courses, increasing 1,395 from 17,925 in 2008-09 to 19,320 in 2009-10. At the same time the number of students studying architecture & related subjects courses decreased by 3.3 percent from 9,435 in 2008-09 to 9,120 in 2009-10 (a fall of 315 students) ( Tables 10b, 10c).

UK Comparisons (Students):

10. Comparisons with the rest of the UK can only be made for those studying HE at higher education institutions ( HEIs). Student numbers in HEIs in Scotland increased by 2.8 percent (6,505) in 2009-10 to 237,765. During this time the number of students in HEIs in England increased by 85,345 (or 4.3 percent) from 1,977,490 to 2,062,835. The number in Wales rose by 1.7 percent to 136,915 and the number in Northern Ireland rose by 6.0 percent to 55,615. The UK as a whole saw an increase in student numbers of 4.1 percent ( Table 11).

Entrants:

Entrants and Institutions:

11. The number of entrants to HE courses increased by 3,335 (or 2.3 percent) from 144,130 in 2008-09 to 147,465 in 2009-10. This is the highest number of entrants to HE courses in Scotland in the previous 10 years ( Table 13).

12. Since 2000-01 there has been a decrease in the proportion of entrants to HE courses at sub-degree level and an increase in the proportions studying at first degree and postgraduate level. In 2000-01, over half (58.2 percent) of entrants studied at sub-degree level, whilst 27.5 percent were entering first degree level courses and the remaining 14.3 percent for 'Postgraduate' studies ( Table 13).

13. By 2009-10, there were 65,680 entrants to HE courses (or 44.5 percent) at the sub-degree level, whilst there were 50,295 entrants (34.1 percent) entering at first degree level and 31,490 (21.4 percent) entering at the postgraduate level. Between 2008-09 and 2009-10 the number of entrants to sub-degree study decreased by 2,255 (3.3 percent) and the number entering postgraduate level study increased by 2,115 (7.2 percent). The number entering into First Degree level study increased by the highest amount (up 3,520 or 7.5 percent) ( Table 13).

14. Since 2008-09, the largest rises in Scottish domiciled entrant numbers to Scottish institutions by local authority have been from Dumfries & Galloway (up 12.6 percent), Midlothian (up 11.1 percent) and Clackmannanshire (up 10.2 percent ). The largest decreases in Scottish domiciled entrant numbers since 2008-09 have been from Eilean Siar (down 15.4 percent), Aberdeenshire (down 4.6 percent) and Highland (down 4.0 percent). Overall, Scottish domiciled entrants to Scottish institutions have risen by 1.0 percent since 2008-09 and by 1.6 percent since 2005-06 ( Table 17).

Entrant Characteristics and Choices:

15. Whilst the number of entrants to HE in Scotland increased by 2.3 percent overall, this was driven by an increase in entrants aged 16 to 29. Entrants amongst this group increased by 5,545 (or 5.8 percent) from 95,920 in 2008-09 to 101,465 in 2009-10. In contrast, the number of entrants aged 30 to 60 decreased by 2,270 (or 5.1 percent) from 44,705 in 2008-09 to 42,435 in 2009-10 ( Table 14).

16. A majority of entrants to HE in Scotland in 2009-10 were female (55.8 percent or 82,215). 44.2 percent or 62,250 entrants were male. The subject groups with the highest proportions of female entrants were subjects allied to Medicine (82.3 percent female) and Veterinary Science (80.6 percent female). The subject groups with the highest proportions of male entrants were Engineering and Technology (86.0 percent male) and Computer Science (80.2 percent). The HE courses in Scotland with the largest overall numbers of entrants in 2009-10 were in Business Administration with 27,540 entrants. Subjects allied to medicine were the second most common with 15,640 entrants participating in 2009-10 ( Table 15).

UK Comparisons (Entrants):

17. Comparisons with the rest of the UK can only be made for those entering HE at higher education institutions ( HEIs). Entrant numbers to HEIs in Scotland increased by 2.7 percent (2,865) in 2009-10 to 108,840. During this time the number of entrants in HE in England increased by 35,525 (or 3.8 percent) from 944,925 to 980,450. The number in Wales rose by 1.3 percent to 70,870 and the number in Northern Ireland rose by 8.1 percent to 24,980. The UK as a whole saw an increase in entrant numbers of 3.6 percent ( Table 18).

Cross Border Flows and International:

18. Scotland remains an importer of students with more students domiciled from outwith Scotland studying HE here than leaving Scotland to study HE elsewhere in the UK (statistics aren't held on the numbers of students domiciled in Scotland studying HE overseas). In 2009-10, 12,340 students domiciled in Scotland were studying HE at HEIs in the rest of the UK (11,790 in England, 400 in Wales and 150 in Northern Ireland). At the same time, over twice as many students (29,380) were domiciled from the rest of the UK and studying HE at Scottish HEIs (23,535 from England, 720 from Wales, 4,605 from Northern Ireland and 520 other UK) ( Table 23). Including college students, there were more than 29,000 students domiciled outwith Scotland studying HE in Scotland ( Table 20). Information regarding the number of Scottish domiciled students enrolled at colleges outwith Scotland is incomplete.

19. Of the 287,565 students enrolled in HE in Scotland (either at Scottish colleges or HEIs) in 2009-10, three-quarters (215,595 or 75.0 percent) were Scottish domiciled (i.e. living in Scotland prior to study). 8.2 percent (23,620 students) were English domiciled. Beyond the United Kingdom ( UK), a further 8.5 percent (24,445 students) were domiciled outwith Europe, 5.6 percent (16,075 students) were domiciled within the European Union ( EU) and 0.5 percent (1,550 students) were domiciled within Non EU-Europe. Altogether 14.7 percent (42,140 students) of those enrolled in HE in Scotland in 2009-10 lived outwith the UK prior to study ( Table 20).

20. In 2009-10, there were 42,140 overseas students enrolled in HE courses at Scottish HEIs and Colleges. These students were domiciled outwith the UK before participating in Scottish higher education ( Table 20). This number has increased by 3,055 (or 7.8 percent) since 2008-09 when there were 39,085 enrolments from overseas students ( Table 21). The majority (58.0 percent or 24,445) of those overseas students in 2009-10 came from outwith Europe, with China (5,530 students), India (3,780 students) and the United States of America (3,335 students) being the most common domicile of over-seas students. Of those students domiciled within Europe (and outwith the UK) before coming to study HE in Scotland, the most common countries of domicile were the Republic of Ireland (3,300 students), Germany (2,215 students) and France (2,105 students) ( Table 20).

21. Recent trends in the number of Scottish students have shown increasing numbers in the last two years, following a fall to 209,170 in 2007-08. Since 2007-08, the number of Scottish students has increased by 3.1%, students from the rest of the UK and from outside the UK have increased by 6.6% and 19.8% respectively (including an increase of 26.9% from EU students in the last two years) ( Table 21).

22. In the most recent year the number of Scottish domiciled students studying HE in Scotland increased by 3,585 (or 1.7 percent), from 212,010 in 2008-09, to 215,595 in 2009-10. The number of English domiciled students doing HE in Scotland increased by 1,110 (or 4.9 percent), from 22,510 to 23,620. The growth in students domiciled outwith the UK was greater than for those domiciled within the UK. The number of EU (excluding the UK) domiciled students doing HE in Scotland increased by 2,225 (or 16.1 percent), from 13,850 in 2008-09, to 16,075 in 2009-10. The number of European domiciled students increased by 215 (or 16.1 percent), from 1,335 to 1,550 and the number of non-European domiciled students increased by 625 (or 2.6 percent), from 233,820 to 24,445 ( Table 21).

23. The number of Scottish domiciled HE entrants to Scottish institutions increased by 940 (or 0.8 percent), from 111,555 in 2008-09, to 112,495 in 2009-10. The percentage of entrants to HE in Scotland that were Scottish domiciled continued to decline slightly at 76.3 percent in 2009-10 (down from 77.4 percent in 2008-09 and 86.2 percent in 2000-01). During this time the number of students entering HE in Scotland from outwith Scotland has continued to grow, both in numbers and proportions (from 18,155 and 13.8 percent of all entrants in 2000-01 to 34,970 and 23.7 percent of all entrants in 2009-10) ( Table 22).

Access and Equalities:

24. The number of students in HE in Scotland declaring a disability in 2009-10 was 21,050 (7.3 percent of all HE students). Of those students, 5,800 or 27.6 percent, were known to be in receipt of Disabled Student's Allowance ( DSA). A specific learning difficulty e.g. dyslexia was the most common disability declared (8,695 students or 41.3 percent of those with a known disability) ( Tables 24a, 24b).

25. The proportion of entrants to HE that come from the 20 percent most deprived areas of Scotland increased slightly from 14.9% in 2008-09, to 15.1% in 2009-10 (18.9 percent of the working age population live in the 20% most deprived areas of Scotland). Entrants from deprived areas remain over-represented in Scotland's colleges (22.6 percent) and under-represented amongst Scotland's HEIs, particularly ancient Universities (7.6 percent) and small specialist institutions (7.9 percent) ( table 25b).

26. In 2009-10, entrants from deprived areas were under represented by -3.8 percentage points. In 2001-02 representation of this group stood at -5.8 percentage points, since then representation has increased each year and is now at the highest level recorded, due to both a slight depopulation of deprived areas and increased participation in HE from those areas.

27. With respect to ethnicity, students who declared their ethnicity to be white constituted 80.5 percent of all students. Students from an Asian - Chinese background were the second largest ethnic group with 2.4 percent of the total and those from an Asian - Indian background were the third largest ethnic group with 2.1 percent of all students. The ethnic group that saw the largest increase in entrants to HE between 2000-01 and 2009-10 was Black - African. The number of entrants to Scottish HE from this ethnic group increased by over 5 times from 520 to 2,850 ( Table 27).

Qualifiers:

HEOutput

28. The number of higher education qualifiers from Scottish institutions has decreased by 0.8 percent since 2008-09, to 83,395 (up by 695 qualifiers) in 2009-10, slightly higher than in 2007-08 when the number of qualifiers was 83,335. This is the first decrease in the number of qualifiers since 2002-03. There has been an overall increase in qualifiers of 17.7 percent (12,530 qualifiers) since 2000-01. The decrease in the most recent year was driven by HEIs with an decrease of 1.7 percent, from 61,565 in 2008-09, to 60,530 in 2009-10. The number of qualifiers from Scottish colleges increased by 1.8 percent, from 22,465 in 2008-09, to 22,865 in 2009-10. Since 2000-01, the number of qualifications obtained has risen by 33.1 percent at higher education institutions and fallen by 9.9 percent at colleges ( Table 28).

29. Of all qualifiers in 2009-10 two thirds (64.1%) achieved graduate level qualifications (first degree level or above); this is mostly driven by qualifications gained at HEIs where 87.8% achieved graduate level qualifications compared to 1.5% at colleges. The percentage of qualifiers leaving with graduate level qualifications has been increasing since 2001-02 when 56.6% of qualifiers achieved graduate level qualifications.

30. In 2009-10, almost three quarters of all HE qualifiers from Scottish institutions qualified from a Scottish HEIs (72.6 percent). Of those qualifiers from Scottish HEIs, half gained qualifications at first degree level (52.5 percent) and almost a third at taught postgraduate level (31.4 percent). At Scottish colleges just over two thirds of qualifiers in 2009-10 gained qualifications at HNC/ HND level (70.4 percent) and almost a third gained other undergraduate qualifications below degree level (28.1 percent). Taking HEIs and colleges together a quarter of qualifications achieved at Scottish institutions in 2009-10 were at postgraduate level (25.6 percent), with just over a third at first degree level (38.5 percent) and other undergraduates (35.9 percent) ( Table 28).

Gender and Age

31. In 2009-10, the percentage of males in the qualifier population was 44.7 percent (up from 44.4 percent in 2008-09) and that of females was 55.3 percent (down from 55.7 percent in 2008-09). This has narrowed the gender difference to 10.6 percentage points, the narrowest it has been in the last ten years. The gender gap has been continuing to close over the last five years; between 2007-08 and 2008-09 this was due to a decrease in the number of female qualifiers (down by 635) ( Table 29).

32. Almost two thirds of qualifiers studied full-time in 2009-10 (65.5 percent). Over the last year the proportion of part-time study fell slightly from 36.2 percent in 2008-09 to 34.5 percent in 2009-10 Part-time study in the final year is more common among males than females, in 2009-10 36.2 percent of male qualifiers studied part-time compared to 33.2 percent of females ( Table 29).

33. In 2009-10, just over half of qualifiers (53.0 percent) were aged under 25 years old. The decrease in qualifiers from Scottish institutions between 2008-09 and 2009-10 was driven by a decrease in qualifiers aged 25 or over which decreased in numbers by 2.3 percent over the year, compared to an increase of 0.6 percent for those aged 25 and over. Almost three quarters of first degree level qualifiers came from the under 25s age group (73.6 percent), compared to half of Sub-degree qualifiers (53.1 percent) and a fifth of postgraduate qualifiers (21.0 percent) ( Table 30)

34. In 2009-10, 31,790 first degree qualifications were awarded at Scottish HEIs, accounting for half (52.5 percent) of qualifications awarded at Scottish HEIs (60,530), this compares to 1.3 percent of those at Scottish colleges (300). HNCs and HNDs accounted for 43.2 percent (9,885) and 27.1 percent (6,210), respectively, of qualifications awarded at Scottish colleges. At Scottish HEIs, 1.9 percent of awards were HNCs (1,175) and 0.8 percent were HNDs (500) ( Table 33).

35. Overall, a quarter of awards were at postgraduate level (25.6 percent), representing 21,375 qualifiers (most of whom gained a masters level qualification, 12,310). 38.5 percent of qualifiers gained first degree level awards (32,095), and 35.9 percent sub-degree awards (29,925) ( Table 33).

Subject of Study

36. In terms of broad subject groups, the number of qualifiers from Medical Studies subjects has decreased, from 10,080 in 2008-09, to 9,285 in 2009-10 (a decrease of 7.9 percent). The number of qualifiers from subjects in Education and the Arts also decreased over the last year, down 0.3 percent (from 18,055 2008-09 to 18,000 in 2009-10). The greatest increase came from qualifiers in Science and engineering subjects, which increased by 0.9 percent (from 21,390 qualifiers in 2008-09 to 21,585 qualifiers in 2009-10). The number of qualifiers from Business and Social Studies subjects remained constant at 32,755 ( Table 34).

37. The largest percentage increases, between 2008-09 and 2009-10, in individual subject areas were in Mathematical Sciences, Creative Arts and Veterinary Sciences; which rose by 11.8 percent (105), 6.5 percent (420) and 6.4 percent (25) respectively. The greatest percentage decreases over the same period were seen in Languages (down 13.3 percent or 390 qualifiers) including English (down 8.5 percent), subjects allied to Medicine (down 10.0 percent or 850 qualifiers) and Humanities (down 7.2 percent or 170 qualifiers) ( Table 34).

38. Looking at broad subject groups; in 2009-10 39.3 percent of qualifiers were from Business and Social Studies subjects (32,755). 25.9 percent were from subjects in the Science and Engineering group (21,585), 21.6 percent were from Education and the Arts (18,000) and 11.1 percent were from Medical Studies (9,285). In terms of individual subjects , Business Administration had the largest number of qualifiers (16,175 or 19.4 percent of all qualifiers) followed by Social Studies (8,510 or 10.2 percent of all qualifiers) and Allied Medicine (7,630 or 9.1 percent of all qualifiers). ( Table 34).

39. Of those gaining first-degree qualifications from Scottish HEIs in 2009-10; 11.7 percent achieved a first class honours award, 35.8 percent achieved an upper second class honours award, 21.0 percent achieved other second class or lower honours and 31.4 percent were awarded other first degrees. Between 2008-09 and 2009-10, the proportion of first degree qualifiers achieving a first class and upper second class honours degrees increased (up 0.6 and 0.5 percentage points respectively) while the proportion being awarded other first degree qualifications fell by 1.2 percentage points, similar shifts in proportions were seen among both male and female qualifiers. ( Table 35).

40. Comparisons with 2006-07 should be made with caution - see footnotes to Table 8. In 2006/07, a miscoding error at The University of Aberdeen saw 1,285 qualifiers recorded as ordinary degrees and therefore unclassified when they should have been recorded as classified qualifiers. Care should be taken when comparing to 2006-07 figures. ( Table 35).

Home and International Qualifiers

41. 56.9 percent of the decrease in the number of qualifiers from Scottish institutions between 2008-09 and 2009-10 was due to decreases in qualifiers whose pre-study location was in Scotland, which fell by 1,170 from 61,435 in 2008-098 to 60,265 in 2009-10 (down 1.9 percent). The number of qualifiers from the rest of the UK fell by 885 qualifiers (11.8 percent) to 6,600 in 2009-10. The number of qualifiers from the rest of the EU, outside the UK, rose by 15.0 percent or 750 qualifiers to 5,755 and those from outside of the EU increased by 6.1 percent or 620 qualifiers to 10,720. Scottish domiciles made up 72.3 percent of the population of qualifiers from Scottish institutions; 7.9 percent were domiciles from the rest of the UK, 6.9 percent were domiciles from the rest of the EU and 12.9 percent were domiciles from the rest of the world. ( Table 36).

42. Almost half (46.8 percent) of Scottish domiciled qualifiers in 2009-10 gained sub-degree qualifications (28,215 qualifiers) and just over a third (37.2 percent) achieved first degree level qualifications (22,415 qualifiers). About two thirds (63.0 percent) of qualifiers from the rest of the UK gained first degree qualifications (4,155) as did half (55.3 percent) of EU domiciled qualifiers (3,180). Almost three quarters (70.8 percent) of qualifiers domiciled in the rest of the world qualified from Scottish institutions with postgraduate level qualifications (7,590 qualifiers). ( Table 36).

43. Scottish domiciled qualifiers account for just under a half of postgraduate qualifications obtained from Scottish institutions in 2009-10 (45.1 percent), 69.8 percent of first degree level qualifications and almost all undergraduate qualifications below degree level (94.3 percent). ( Table 36).

44. Compared to 2000-01, the number of qualifiers in 2009-10 represented an increase of 4.5 percent for qualifiers from Scotland, a decrease of 3.6 percent for qualifiers from the rest of the UK, an increase of 113.1 percent for qualifiers from the rest of the EU and 195.3 percent for qualifiers from outside the EU ( Table 36).

Equality

45. In 2009-10, there were 60,265 Scottish domiciled qualifiers from Scottish institutions. Of those with known ethnicities the vast majority (91.3 percent) were white. The level of study with the greatest representation of non-white qualifiers (excluding unknowns) was postgraduate research for which 7.9 percent of qualifiers were of non-white ethnic background. This compares to 4.3 percent of other higher education qualifiers; the level of study with the lowest representation of non-white qualifiers. ( Table 37.a).

46. The most frequent disabilities recorded among Scottish domiciled qualifiers in 2009-10 were specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia) affecting 3.3 percent of qualifiers, this is followed by unseen disabilities (e.g. diabetes, epilepsy, asthma) which affected 1.7 percent of qualifiers in 2009-10. There is very little change between the distribution of disabilities reported by Scottish domiciled students and Scottish domiciled qualifiers, suggesting that students with disabilities are just as likely to qualify from their course as those students without disabilities. ( Table 38).

UK Comparisons

47. In 2009-10, HEIs in the other UK countries saw increased numbers of qualifiers leaving their institutions. The UK as a whole saw an increase of 6.3% in the number of qualifiers over the last year, comprised of increases of 9.4% at Welsh HEIs, 7.0% at English HEIs and 4.1% at Northern Irish HEIs. Scotland was the only UK country to see decrease in qualifiers from HEIs over the last year (-1.7%). Looking back over the last five years, Scotland has seen an increased number of qualifiers in 2009-10, compared to 2005-06, by 6.9%. This compares to 11.9% for the UK as a whole, including an increases of 20.9% for Welsh HEIs and 13.2% for English HEIs and a decrease of 1.5% for Northern Irish HEIs ( Table 40).

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