HEFCE publications on supply and demand for higher education subjects

31 July 2013

HEFCE has published the latest data on supply and demand in higher education subjects, and an evaluation of the National Higher Education Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (HE STEM) programme.

This release of data on supply and demand incorporates data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency for 2011-12 for the first time. The existing time series of data stretches back to 2001-02 for undergraduates, and 2002-03 for postgraduates. The latest data give information on supply and demand at all levels from A-level through to postgraduate research, presenting the recent and potential flow of graduates in different subject areas.

Subjects that have in the past caused concern, including maths, physics and chemistry, now appear to be doing well. The trends in engineering disciplines also seem broadly positive, though with some reliance on overseas students in some areas. Modern foreign languages appear less positive at undergraduate and postgraduate taught levels, but numbers in postgraduate research seem steady.

The data are presented according to a number of different student characteristics, including sex and – for the first time – age, disability status, ethnicity, and an area-based classification of HE participation (Note 1). Data on the take-up of integrated masters degrees by subject are also presented for the first time.

The data are used to inform HEFCE’s approach to strategically important and vulnerable subjects, helping to monitor where a subject might be at risk, now or in the near future. The data are free to view and use for any party who may find this helpful.

Evaluation of HE STEM programme

The National HE STEM programme ran between 2009 and 2012 with funding from HEFCE and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. It aimed to increase and widen participation, to promote, support and champion the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, and to respond to the skills needs of employers and employees.

The new evaluation, which was undertaken by CFE Research, found that there had been a high level of engagement with the programme among the majority of higher education institutions with relevant STEM provision in England and Wales. It also found that the programme had impacted on university activity and practice, and influenced the national debates on HE STEM and related policy.

Overall, the evaluation concluded that the National HE STEM Programme had been an effective and valuable contribution to the challenges facing the supply and diversity of STEM graduates in England and Wales.


  1. The Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) classification analyses the geographical variation in participation by grouping small areas (2001 census area statistics wards) across the UK according to their level of young HE participation. The current, third, iteration of the classification is known as POLAR3.
  2. The data on supply and demand in higher education subjects and the new evaluation of STEM are published on the HEFCE web-site.

Page last updated 31 July 2013

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