Higher education institutions
In 2016-17, undergraduate student numbers grew fastest at those higher education institutions (HEIs) with a low UCAS entry tariff. The number of UK and other European Union (EU) full-time undergraduate entrants at these institutions increased by 3.6 per cent (3,900 students) compared with the previous academic year. There was also strong growth of 2.9 per cent in the number of entrants to high-tariff HEIs, but the number of entrants to medium-tariff HEIs declined by 1.2 per cent.
It seems likely that the growth in entrants at low-tariff HEIs will not be sustained in the next academic year, as UCAS has reported a fall of about 10 per cent in applications from UK-domiciled students to lower-tariff providers.
Over a longer time period, there has been a large increase in undergraduate entrants to high-tariff HEIs. Their number of UK and other EU full-time undergraduate entrants increased by 16 per cent between 2010-11 and 2016-17, as these institutions recovered strongly following the increase in tuition fees in 2012-13. By contrast, numbers of entrants at medium- and low-tariff HEIs in 2016-17 were still below their 2010-11 levels.
The share of postgraduate students has also become increasingly concentrated at high-tariff institutions in the past decade, but this is due to large increases in the number of international students at high-tariff institutions.
The number of entrants of all nationalities to full-time taught postgraduate courses at high-tariff institutions increased by 59 per cent in the 10 years between 2006-07 and 2015-16. By contrast, the increases at medium- and low-tariff institutions over the same period were 6.3 and 8.1 per cent.
However, institutions of all types appear to have benefited from the introduction of postgraduate loans as there have been large increases in the number of UK students to taught postgraduate courses at all types of HEI in 2016-17.