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Equality in higher education: statistical reports 2023

15 Nov 2023 | Advance HE Higher education staff and student reports present the data sets for the 2022-23 academic year.

Key headlines:

  • student mental health conditions are the fastest growing disability which is also mirrored in staff data
  • more than half of undergraduates and postgraduate research students are female, and there is evidence to suggest that this is slowly contributing to improved representation of female professors and Heads of Institution
  • narrowing of the ethnicity degree awarding gap has not been sustained, returning to pre-pandemic levels
  • the proportion of first degree undergraduates awarded a first or 2:1 has decreased
  • there has been a significant fall in the number of EU students in UK HE.

The 2023 equality statistical reports published today (15 November), cover staff and student data for the academic year 2021-22.

Advance HE has published the 16th year of national staff and student equality data to highlight opportunities and challenges regarding the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in UK higher education.

The two reports present a snapshot of staff and students’ age, disability, ethnicity and sex, as well as a range of intersectional data to show how various identity characteristics interact in their relation to differential outcomes.

This year there are data to evidence that:

  • Since 2012/13, the proportion of students disclosing a mental health condition has increased from 1.1% of all students to 4.6% in 2021/22. This is by far the most rapidly increasing population of disabled students (compared with the rates of growth for other impairment types) and is mirrored in the proportion of staff disclosing a mental health condition (from 0.3% in 2012/13 to 1.1% in 2021/22).
Staff Mental Health
  • Female representation amongst first degree undergraduate students (56.6%) and postgraduate researchers (51.3%) has continued to increase and there is evidence that this has contributed to small but noteworthy improvements in the representation of female academic staff (47.9%) and professors (29.7%), both of which are at a record high. Encouragingly, this trend appears to extend to female representation amongst Heads of Institutions, doubling from 35 women in 2012/13 (20.1%) to 70 women in 2021/22 (32.7%).
  • The narrowing of the ethnicity degree awarding gap from 10.8 percentage points to 9.0 percentage points between 2019/20 and 2020/21 has reversed – with the gap between the proportions of Black, Asian and minority ethnic qualifiers and White qualifiers awarded a ‘good degree’ returning to 10.7 percentage points in 2021/22.
  • While the population of students enrolled in UK HE continues to increase year-on-year, the growth recorded in 2021/22 is driven primarily by an increase in non-EU students in other undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes. This contrasts a significant fall in the number of EU students in UK HE, falling from 151,310 students to 118,860 students (a reduction of 21.4%).
Taught PGs by domicile

Amanda Aldercotte, Head of Knowledge and Research at Advance HE, said,

“This year's report highlights the need for the sector to harness existing data sources to inform how we support a growing population of staff and students with mental health concerns and address the persistent ethnicity degree awarding gap.

“We have the opportunity to draw insights from these statistics and use this information to reshape practice and ensure that everyone's journey is one of belonging and success.”

Read Amanda's blog, How do we turn data into insights?, exploring how the sector can extract value from these annual statistical reports.

The full Students statistical report 2023 and Staff statistical report for 2023, along with a full set of infographics are available here

Advance HE members can download the reports, full data tables and infographics below. There is also a dissemination event where you can find out more about the report from the authors. Register here.

We are looking to find out more about how members use the reports and gather feedback on their effectiveness. If you would like to contribute, you can complete the survey here

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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