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Characteristics of full-time first degree entrants

Data quality

The data quality and coverage for 2015-16 full-time first degree entrants is higher than previous years. It is of sufficient quality to report high level patterns for 2015-16 but not for previous years.

For all other modes and levels the quality and coverage are more limited and therefore patterns are not reported in this report.

In 2012-13, Equality and Diversity questions on Gender identity, Sexual orientation, Religion and belief and Parental education were added as optional fields to the HESA student return.

Historically, response rates have been low for all these fields on the student return, particularly the optional equality and diversity fields. However, in recent years, return rates have increased allowing us to explore the information contained within these fields.

These pages give an overview to information available from both the optional equality and diversity fields as well as the parental education field.

Key findings

Parental education

50 per cent of the entrant population had parents or guardians without a HE qualification. More students without a parent or guardian with a HE qualification attended medium and low tariff institutions.

tariff split donuts pared

An institution's tariff refers to the level of qualifications that it requires of applicants. The type of tariff indicates the comparative status of the institution and the competition to enter it.

Religion and belief

The breakdown of religion and belief across the student population is similar to that of the 2011 census population (the most recently available census information).

Overall 46 per cent of 2015-16 full-time first degree entrants aged between 18 and 29 reported they had no religion; 30 per cent identified as Christian and 10 per cent as Muslim.

Across institution type and subject the distribution of 'Religion and belief' vary a little. Most of this, however, is seen in the Christian, Muslim, No religion and Information refused groups.

Sexual orientation

Overall 88 per cent of full-time first degree entrants identify as heterosexual, six per cent refused to answer and all other groups make up two per cent or less each.

There is little variation across institution type and subject for the different sexual orientations.

Gender identity

Overall 95 per cent of full-time first degree entrants identified as the same gender identity as assigned at birth; three per cent identified as a different gender identity to that assigned at birth; and two per cent refused to answer this field.

Gender_id donut chart

There is also little variation across institution type and subject by gender identity.

Download the technical document showing methodology, how to use the charts and FAQs

Download the Equality_and_diversity_optional_fields_technical_document as PDF (151 KB)

Contact us

If you have any problems with the graphs or any feedback, please email Rhiannon Hawkins at

Page last updated 3 August 2017