Department for the Economy publishes Higher Education statistical fact sheets

Date published: 27 June 2019

The Department for the Economy has published eight Higher Education (HE) statistical fact sheets.

Department for the Economy publishes Higher Education Statistics
Department for the Economy publishes Higher Education Statistics

This includes the 2017/18 Northern Ireland (NI) HE Age Participation Index (API) as a statistical first release. The API is used to measure the participation of young NI domiciled people in HE over time.

The fact sheets also provide a number of more detailed breakdowns of previously published HE data.

Key points:

  • The NI API for the 2017/18 academic year was 50.6 per cent, a decrease of 0.9 percentage points from the 2016/17 academic year (51.5 per cent). While the figure can fluctuate by a few percentage points from year to year, it has grown substantially in net terms since 1994/95, at which stage it was 36.9 per cent (Fact Sheet 1).
  • Between 2009/10 and 2018/19, the number of applicants applying to NI institutions increased by a net 23.0 per cent,, from 19,290 to 23,720. Over the same period, the number of applicants accepted to NI institutions increased by a net 0.6 per cent,, from 10,150 to 10,210 (Fact Sheet 2, Section 2).
  • Between 2013/14 and 2017/18, the total number of students enrolled on initial teacher training courses at NI Higher Education Institutions (NI HEIs) decreased by 4.4 per cent, from 1,445 to 1,380, while those graduating decreased by 12.1 per cent,, from 585 to 515 (Fact Sheet 3).
  • In 2017/18, 10.4 per cent, of students enrolled at NI HEIs self-reported as having a disability; an increase from 9.6 per cent in 2016/17 (Fact Sheet 4).
  • In 2017/18, of those NI domiciled students enrolled at NI HEIs who were asked to provide the religion they were brought up in, 30.4 per cent of students stated ‘Protestant’, 48.9 per cent stated ‘Roman Catholic’ and the remainder were categorised as ‘Other’ (5.2 per cent), ‘No Religion’ (6.8 per cent) or ‘Unknown’ (8.7 per cent) (Fact sheet 4).
  • In 2017/18, 26.0 per cent of students at NI HEIs were enrolled on Narrow STEM related courses. The equivalent percentages for English, Scottish and Welsh HEIs were 27.1 per cent, 29.9 per cent and 30.8 per cent respectively (Fact Sheet 5).
  • Between 2013/14 and 2017/18, the total number of students enrolled on Narrow STEM related courses at NI HEIs increased by 5.1 per cent, from 13,460 to 14,155 (Fact Sheet 6, Section 1).
  • Over the past 30 years, enrolments on HE courses at NI HEIs have more than doubled, from 22,880 in 1988/89 to 54,460 in 2017/18. Over the same period, enrolments on HE courses at NI Further Education (FE) colleges have increased almost four-fold, from 3,175 to 11,848 (Fact Sheet 7).
  • Between 2013/14 and 2017/18, the total number of NI domiciled students enrolled on HE courses at UK HEIs, UK FE colleges and RoI institutions decreased by a net 1.0 per cent, from 77,165 to 76,360 (Fact Sheet 8).

The fact sheets are available to download from the Department’s website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistics presented in the fact sheets are based on data from a number of sources, including the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), Further Education Statistical Record (FESR), Consolidated Data Return (CDR), Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Department for Education, Welsh Government (WG), Scottish Government (SG) and Higher Education Authority (HEA).
  2. From the 2014/15 academic year onwards, HESA no longer counts the Open University as a wholly English institution, but splits it between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, depending on where the national centre is located.
  3. In 2013/14, the Further Education Statistical Record (FESR) ceased to exist and was replaced by the Consolidated Data Return (CDR).
  4. Higher Education (HE) students for the purpose of HESA's data collection are those students on courses for which the level of instruction is above that of level 3 of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) National Qualifications Framework (NQF) (for example, courses at the level of Certificate of HE and above).
  5. The definition of a HE student used by the different data sources may vary slightly due to different data coding and variable definitions.
  6. The API percentage can fluctuate from year to year as a result of small increases or decreases in the 18 year old population each year in combination with small increases or decreases in enrolments.
  7. Narrow STEM related courses include: Biological sciences; Physical Sciences; Mathematical Sciences; Computer Science and Engineering & Technology.
  8. The academic year runs from 1 August to 31 July.
  9. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

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