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Budgeting & Banking

University student statistics 2024

Looking for statistics about UK university students? We've pulled together data from a variety of sources to save you time with research. Bookmark this page as we'll keep it updated.

Woman studying in library

Credit: Gorodenkoff – Shutterstock

As experts on student money, we stay up to date with the latest data related to university students in the UK, alongside conducting our own research through annual surveys. To help other journalists and researchers find key info quickly, we've combined findings from a range of sources on this page.

Each statistic below has a link to its source to make it easier for you to quickly find the web pages you need. Among others, the sources include our annual student surveys, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Either use the navigation box below to jump straight to the stats you're looking for, or scroll through for an overview of the latest data on students in the UK.

Any questions? Visit our press and contact pages to get in touch.

Student population statistics

These are the key stats about the UK student population:

  • There was a total of 2,862,620 higher education students in the UK in 2021/22, which was 4% higher than in 2020/21. (HESA, 2023)
  • Among all higher education students in the UK in 2021/22, 679,970 (24%) were international students. 120,140 of these students were from the EU, while 559,825 were from outside of the EU. (HESA, 2023)
  • There were 2,042,310 undergraduate students in 2021/22, and 1,883,860 were on their first degree. (HESA, 2023)
  • And there were 820,310 postgraduate students in 2021/22. This includes 558,255 who were on a taught master's, and 104,645 who were doing doctorate research. (HESA, 2023)
  • In 2021/22, 1,633,425 higher education students were female and 1,221,780 were male. (HESA, 2023)
  • Among UK-domiciled undergraduate students in 2021/22, 9% were private-school educated and 91% were from state-funded schools or colleges.  (HESA, 2023)
  • The most commonly studied subject is business and management, which 530,460 students were studying in 2021/22. (HESA, 2023)
  • The least commonly studied subject is veterinary sciences, which just 12,145 higher education students studied in 2021/22. (HESA, 2023)
  • The easiest UK university to get into in 2022 was the University for the Creative Arts, which had an offer rate of 94.5%. (UCAS, 2023)
  • The hardest UK university to get into in 2022 was the University of Oxford, with an offer rate of 19.2%. (UCAS, 2023)
We've listed all of the uni offer rates in our full guide to the easiest and hardest universities to get into.

Student mental health statistics

Here are some important stats related to the mental health of university students:

  • In 2021/22, 131,900 students reported having a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia. (HESA, 2023)
  • A survey by Student Minds found that 57% of respondents self-reported having a mental health issue in 2022. However, only 24% of those students had a diagnosis. (Student Minds, 2023)
  • In our most recent National Student Money Survey, 55% of surveyed students said their mental health suffers as a result of money worries. (NSMS, 2023)
  • A study by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) found that 78.3% of participants felt that counselling helped them to stay at university, at least to a limited extent. (BACP, 2023)

Student Loan statistics

This is an overview of how maintenance funding has changed across the UK in 2023/24:

  • In England, Maintenance Loans increased by 2.8%. (SFE)
  • In Northern Ireland, maximum Maintenance Loans increased by 40%. (Student Finance NI)
  • In Scotland, financial support increased by £900, which was an increase of between 11.1% and 17.6% depending on household income. (SAAS)
  • In Wales, maintenance support increased by 9.4%. (Student Finance Wales)

And here are some stats about students' experiences with Student Loans from our own research:

  • For the average student in our latest National Student Money Survey, their Maintenance Loan fell short of covering their living costs by around £582 per month. (NSMS, 2023)
  • 64% of students in the latest National Student Money Survey said their Maintenance Loan was not enough to live on. (NSMS, 2023)
  • 856,475 graduates made Student Loan repayments despite earning below the threshold in 2021/22. (FOI request to SLC by Save the Student, 2023)

Student drop-out rates

These are useful statistics about students dropping out of university in the UK:

  • Among young entrants on their first full-time degree in 2019/20, 5.3% didn't continue beyond their first year of university. (HESA, 2022)
  • 71% of students in the National Student Money Survey 2023 said they'd considered dropping out at some point. The three most common reasons were their mental health (59%), money worries (54%) and Student Loan interest rates (37%). (NSMS, 2023)

Statistics about student spending

Here are the main findings about student spending from the National Student Money Survey 2023:

  • Surveyed students spent an average of £1,078 per month.
    • The biggest average monthly expenses were rent (£439 per month), groceries (£133 per month) and household bills (£79 per month).
  • Average monthly living costs increased by around 17% compared to the 2022 survey, up from £924 per month.
  • The UK region with the highest average student living costs was London (£1,211 per month), while the cheapest region for students was Northern Ireland (£904 per month).
  • Food poverty is a growing concern in UK universities. 64% of surveyed students said they skipped meals to save money at least some of the time (22% often and 42% sometimes).
  • 18% of students in the survey had used a food bank in the previous academic year. This is almost double the figure from the 2022 survey when 10% had said the same.

Statistics about student accommodation

Infographic showing 64% struggle with rent

Here are the key stats from the National Student Accommodation Survey 2024:

  • 64% of those in the survey who paid rent struggled with the cost at least some of the time (20% described it as a constant struggle, while 44% struggled from time to time).
  • Two in five have thought about dropping out due to the cost of rent.
  • 72% said rental costs impacted their health, while 45% said their studies suffered due to accommodation problems.
  • 7% said they have experienced homelessness.
  • Over a third have had issues with damp.
  • 14% don't think they will ever be able to buy a house.
  • Energy bills cost an average of £86 per month for surveyed students.
  • 51% were concerned about the student housing shortage.
  • The most common type of accommodation for surveyed students was a privately rented home (39%), followed by university accommodation (24%), private halls (16%), their family home (15%) and their own property (3%). 3% answered 'other' for their accommodation type.

Statistics about student banking

Infographic showing Santander 20%, HSBC 13%, Barclays 12%, Nationwide 9%, Lloyds 9%, Natwest 8%, Halifax 6%, RBS 3%, Co-op 1%, TSB 1%

This is an overview of the findings from the Student Banking Survey 2023:

  • The most popular student bank account was with Santander.
  • Among surveyed students who had overdrafts, 35% had hit their limit at some point.
  • 26% had credit card debt.
  • Around two in five shopped with buy now, pay later (BNPL) sites.
  • 31% had a Lifetime ISA (LISA). This was up from 18% who said the same in the 2022 survey.

University rankings

Top 10 UK universities

Here are the top 10 UK universities for 2024 according to the Complete University Guide (CUG):

  1. University of Cambridge
  2. University of Oxford
  3. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
  4. University of St Andrews
  5. University of Bath
  6. Imperial College London
  7. Loughborough University
  8. Durham University
  9. University College London (UCL)
  10. Lancaster University.

For interesting facts about each uni, including famous alumni, see our guide to the best UK universities.

Most sustainable UK universities

These are the most sustainable universities in the UK in 2023/24 according to People & Planet:

  1. University of Reading
  2. Manchester Metropolitan University
  3. University of Bedfordshire
  4. University of the Arts, London
  5. King's College London
  6. Cardiff Metropolitan University
  7. De Montfort University
  8. Swansea University
  9. University of Worcester
  10. Bournemouth University.

We also list the least sustainable universities in our guide to the university sustainability rankings.

For more student statistics, see the full report for the National Student Money Survey 2023.

Laura Brown

WRITTEN BY Laura Brown

Laura Brown, Head of Editorial at Save the Student, is an award-winning writer with expertise in student money. She project manages influential national student surveys and has presented findings to MPs in Westminster. As an expert on student issues, Laura has been quoted by the BBC, the Guardian, Metro and more.
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