You need cookies enabled

HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


You need cookies enabled


The number of students from the UK and other European Union (EU) countries starting full-time undergraduate courses in England reached an all-time high in 2016-17. There were an estimated 408,000 entrants, which is a 1.0 per cent (4,000 students) increase on the previous year.

Key facts

1.0 per cent rise in full-time undergraduate entrants

3.0 per cent rise in UK and EU students in HE

Increases in the young participation rate and numbers of EU entrants have led to strong growth since 2012-13, when the higher tuition fees caused a temporary fall.

However, 2016-17 is likely to be a peak year as the declining population of 18-year olds and the consequences of the EU referendum could put downward pressure on the number of entrants in 2017-18, while there may be a transitional effect as funding for nursing students switches from bursaries to loans. UCAS reported a 5.8 per cent decrease in the number of UK and other EU applicants to English providers by the 15 January deadline.

All-year student numbers of UK and other EU full-time undergraduates were 3.0 per cent (32,800 students) higher in 2016-17 than in 2015-16, at 1,123,000. These students made up 57 per cent of the overall higher education student population in 2015-16. 

Page last updated 8 March 2017