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One in seven students chose to study the top course in the UK. Source: Joshua Ness/Unsplash

Latest statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows that business and administrative studies remains the top course pursued in the United Kingdom. 

One in every seven students in the 2018/19 academic year enrolled in this study area. Consequently, it produced the most graduates last year. 

Coming in second are subjects allied to medicine, for which there has been a small increase in enrolment. HESA attributes this to the removal of nursing, midwifery, and most allied health from NHS bursaries in August 2017. Now, these students can access the same loan system as their peers in other fields.

The next top course in the UK is biological sciences, which includes biotechnology, genetics, and biodiversity. It was one of the three study areas to increase in enrolments, which is encouraging for the future of science academia and specialisation.

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An increase in biological science enrollments signifies growing interest in STEM. Source: Lucas Vasques/Unsplash

In fourth place is social studies, which also rose in popularity in the past academic year. More than half (56 percent) of first-year students were of African descent, exhibiting an increased interest and involvement in humanities among the minority group.

Next, in fifth place we have creative arts and design the top course choice among young students under the age of 20. Graduate career experts Prospects recognises this as a fast-growing field in the UK. 

There are currently over two million creatives employed in various fields within the UK. In the future, we will likely see more graduates breaking into film, music, fashion, design, and advertising. 

Top courses represent future specialisations

Here’s what else the latest HESA data can tell us about higher education trends in the UK over the past year.

  • International students made up 20 percent of higher education institutions, which is 6 percent increase compared to the number of international students last year. The top five contributing countries were China, India, the United States, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.
  • Over a third of non-EU students came from China, exhibiting a 34 percent increase over the past five years. 
  • The number of enrolments among students from India went up 42 percent year-on-year.
  • More students are studying for MBA qualifications a spike of almost 18 percent was observed in 2018/19 enrolment numbers compared to 2017/18. 45% of these students came from outside the UK to complete one-year MBA programmes. 
  • STEM is on the rise as the number of students studying science subjects increased year-on-year. There has also been a steady increase in the percentage of female students opting for science subjects over the academic years of 2014/15 to 2018/19.

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