From education to employment

New facts and figures report released by Universities UK

@UniversitiesUK (UUK) has today released its latest report highlighting key facts and figures in the higher education (HE) sector. Using stats from more than 140 member institutions, the report offers insights into the UK higher education sector during a critical period of recovery from the pandemic and the challenges arising from the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. Higher education in facts and figures: 2023

In snapshot:

  • During the 2021/22 academic year, almost 3 million students attended current UUK member institutions, an increase of 4% compared to 2020/21
  • 82% of 2020/21 graduates were in employment or unpaid work 15 months after graduation
  • In England, 25% of students at UUK member universities came from the most disadvantaged background 
  • UUK member institutions employ more than 400,000 (410,925) members of staff

Further highlights:

Findings from the ‘Higher Education in Facts and Figures: 2023’ report revealed that 2.7 million students attended UUK member institutions during 2021/22, a slight increase on the 2.4 million students from the previous academic year. The 2022 application cycle also saw the highest number of university applicants among member institutions in over decade. Furthermore among 2020/21 graduates 82% of graduates were in employment or unpaid work just 15 months after graduation..

In total, almost 80% of students during 2021/22 were studying full time. Business studies and subjects allied to medicine proved to be the most popular subjects for undergraduates and postgraduates to enrol into.

In the latest iteration of the annual report, UUK’s analysis also found that member institutions in England and Scotland witnessed record percentages of the most disadvantaged students enrolling in full-time undergraduate courses. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland experienced a decline following a record uplift the previous year (2021), while the figure for Wales remained unchanged. 

The 2021/22 academic year was also significant for international students studying at member institutions. In total, 4% of students hailed from EU countries, marking a shift from 5% in 2020–21. Additionally, 20% were from outside the EU, an increase from 16% the previous year. 

UUK member institutions employed a total of 410,925 staff members. Among them, 54% comprised academic staff, with 13% originating from EU countries and 11% from non-EU countries. These figures are in line with a previous study exploring the impact of HE on the UK economy in the 21/22 cycle which found that all universities across the UK support more than three quarters of a million jobs (768,000).

Other useful outputs:

Today’s report builds on the previously released Impact of universities: in numbers, a snapshot view of university impact which showed higher education makes a £130 billion contribution to the UK economy. ‘Research and Innovation Facts and Figures, 2022’, another recent UUK publication, reported 19,000 active spin-outs, start-ups and social enterprises have emerged from universities. This UUK report also highlighted the impact of higher education innovation and research, with every £1 spent resulting in around £10 of value. Over the last five years, universities have had nearly 600,000 interactions with businesses and non-commercial partners through contract research and consultancy. 

With challenging rhetoric continuing around international students, earlier this month UUK also published a ‘myth and reality’ piece addressing some common misconceptions around international students and graduates. International students and graduates: myths and reality (

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