You need cookies enabled

Cookies

You need cookies enabled

Contents

  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Data sources
  • Overall trends in PhD starters
  • Trends in PhD starters by student attributes
  • Trends in PhD starters by course attributes
  • Annex A Higher Education Statistics Agency student record data definitions
  • List of abbreviations

Executive summary

Purpose

1.   This report describes the characteristics of starters to doctoral degree courses in UK higher education institutions between 1996-97 and 2004-05. The attributes of both the student and the course are examined.

Key points

Overall trends in PhD starters

2.   Between 1996-97 and 2004-05, the number of starters to full-time PhD programmes grew by 22 per cent from 13,800 to 16,900. In the same period, the number of starters to part-time programmes fell by 6 per cent from 4,800 to 4,500. Most of the decline in numbers to part-time programmes was seen between 1996-97 and 1998-99.

3.   The number of starters to full-time programmes from a UK domicile increased marginally between 1996-97 and 2004-05. However there were much larger increases in starters from outside the UK: for both the EU (excluding UK) and non-EU groups there were 50 per cent more starters in 2004-05 than in 1996-97.

4.   The number of part-time starters from a UK domicile decreased by 14 per cent between 1996-97 and 2004-05. Conversely the number of starters from the EU (excluding UK) and non-EU groups both showed increases across the same period: 48 and 23 per cent respectively.

5.   When considering trends in starters to particular subject areas, there were significant differences across the subjects. For example when considering starters to full-time courses, the number more than doubled in computer science between 1996-97 and 2004-05. Conversely the number of full-time starters decreased in veterinary sciences and chemistry across the same period.

Trends in PhD starters by student attributes

6.   The largest and most significant changes in the number of starters to full-time PhD programmes between 1996-97 and 2004-05 were seen for the following types of students:

  • females (grew by 42 per cent). In 2004-05 there were 7,400 female starters compared to 9,519 male starters
  • students aged 21 or under on commencement (declined by 45 per cent)
  • those from a Chinese ethnicity (more than doubled)
  • those with a masters qualification in the year prior to commencement (grew by 70 per cent).

7.   The largest and most significant changes in the number of starters to part-time programmes were seen for:

  • males (declined by 14 per cent). In 2004-05 there were 2,194 female starters compared to 2,331 male starters
  • students aged under 28 (declined by 26 per cent)
  • those from an Asian or Asian British ethnicity (grew by 75 per cent)
  • those with a masters qualification in the year prior to commencement (grew by 10 per cent) or those with a higher degree awarded two years prior to commencement or earlier (grew by 26 per cent).

Action required

8.   No action is required in response to this document. 

Date: 1 February 2009

Ref: 2009/04

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Research, Student data, Planning, Postgraduate research

Enquiries should be directed to:

Mark Gittoes, tel 0117 931 7052, e-mail m.gittoes@hefce.ac.uk