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Data show Covid’s effects on student numbers, while radio listeners quiz UCU chief Jo Grady

It shut campuses for months at a time, cost universities millions in personal protective equipment, accommodation refunds and lost business, and halted international travel. But what effect did Covid-19 have on the number and type of students attending UK universities and the qualifications they received? Not much, according to an analysis of figures published yesterday by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The Hesa data show that student numbers increased by 4 per cent between 2020-21 and 2021-22, to 2,862,620, with a 2 per cent increase in first-year enrolments. The highest jump was seen in numbers enrolling on postgraduate courses—particularly international students on full-time taught courses. This was after overall first-year student enrolments increased by around 10 per cent between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 Covid-hit academic years.

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