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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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.


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Key findings include:

  • Part-time UK and European Union undergraduate entrant numbers in 2013-14 are almost half what they were in 2010-11.
  • Declines in entry to part-time higher education courses appear to have been affected by a range of macroeconomic factors including falls in employment – particularly in the public sector.
  • Wider comparisons among the UK nations show that part-time declines in England appear to have been affected by a range of policy changes alongside economic effects.
  • Numbers of UK and European Union entrants with direct financial backing from their employers for undergraduate part-time study fell by almost half in 2012-13 compared with the previous year, from 40,000 to 23,000. A significant fall in employer financial backing was also seen for postgraduate students between 2010-11 and 2012-13. This is largely explained by a large fall in the number of entrants to education-related subjects.
  • Part-time fees have risen significantly, but still tend to be lower than full-time fees. Students are generally more likely to find greater variability in fees for part-time courses than for full-time courses.
  • Part-time study appears to be more likely to suffer in a recession – but this is not inevitable. Around half of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries saw growth in part-time between 2010 and 2011.

This report draws on a separate report to HEFCE by Oxford Economics, ‘Macroeconomic influences on the demand for part-time higher education in the UK’.

Date: 29 April 2014

Ref: HEFCE 2014/08d

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges, Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Recruitment, Part-time higher education

Enquiries should be directed to:

David Heron, tel 0117 931 7105, e-mail