Official statistics

Student characteristics data

These pages contain information about student characteristics data for those studying at English higher education providers.

Along with a broad range of other characteristics it includes information about protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

These statistics are published as part of our specific duties under the Equality Act 2010, which applies to the Office for Students (OfS) as a provider of public services. See more information on our public sector equality duty.

Contact us

If you have any questions or feedback on these pages, please contact [email protected].

Our technical document describes the methodology and data coverage used to construct the data in the student characteristics data release.

The student characteristics data dashboards complement other OfS data publications that include student outcomes and population data, many of which support our regulation of student outcomes through registration condition B3.

The student characteristics data release includes the broadest set of student characteristics, as well as some characteristics at a more disaggregated level. The range of student characteristics covered in the student characteristics data dashboards include a number which are not currently included in the access and participation data dashboard, including, sexual orientation, household residual income and care experience.

The populations used in the student characteristics dashboards match those in our dashboards used for regulation as follows:

We have used data from the student characteristics data release to inform the Equality of Opportunity Risk Register (EORR) to identify at a national level which student groups were most likely to be affected by risks to equality of opportunity across the higher education lifecycle. Providers can use the student characteristics data dashboards to help inform the risks to equality of opportunity for a wide range of student groups.

The OfS is a producer of official statistics, which means we follow the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Most of the student characteristics in this release have been reported previously and are established as official statistics. In line with the expectations of the Code of Practice, we report any new characteristics as experimental statistics.

The separation of official and experimental statistics does not reflect the underlying quality of the data. We assessed all characteristics using our data quality framework, to determine whether they were valid to include and to establish the appropriate population coverage to use. Detail on the implementation of this framework can be found in our accompanying technical document.

We are keen to receive feedback on these statistics. If you have any queries or suggestions, please contact [email protected].

The student characteristics included in this release are listed below.

Throughout the student characteristics data release, we refer to these characteristics using the same language as was used in the collection of this data. In some cases, these terms deviate from those used to define the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010. For example, ‘ethnicity’, as reported in this data, is more narrowly defined than ‘race’, as defined in the Equality Act, which can refer to a person’s colour, nationality, or ethnic origins.

Those marked with an asterisk (*) relate to one of the characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010. Further detail about how these student characteristics are defined can be found in our accompanying technical document.

  • Age*
  • Disability*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Sex*
  • Religion or belief*
  • Sexual orientation*
  • Gender identity
  • Parental higher education
  • Care experience
  • Estrangement
  • Free school meals (FSM) eligibility
  • Household Residual Income (HRI)
  • Socioeconomic background
  • Service child: indicates whether a student was recorded in the National Pupil Database (NPD) as a child of service personnel when in key stage 4
  • Participation of local areas (POLAR4)
  • Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD)
  • Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI)
  • Tracking underrepresentation by area (TUNDRA)
  • Associations between characteristics of students (ABCS) quintiles for continuation, completion and progression
  • Adult higher education
  • Geography of employment quintile
  • Local or distance learner
  • Entry qualification
  • Broad subject of study.
Published 11 November 2022
Last updated 25 July 2023
25 July 2023
Annual update with latest data.

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