Figures published today show the number of students from Wales enrolled at universities in the UK increased by 2.6% last year.
The number of Wales-based students at UK Higher Education Institutions rose to 99,310 in 2018/19, from 96,780 in 2017/18, putting an end to a six year decline.
The overall increase was driven primarily by a rise of 9.2% in postgraduate students, from 16,665 to 18,200, the second year in a row the number has risen. This follows the introduction of additional support for post-graduate students in Wales.
The figures, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, show admissions to Welsh universities also increased to 121,880, up from 121,010 the previous year.
The number of postgraduate enrolments in Welsh universities increased by 5.9%, while full-time undergraduates remained at a similar level to 2017/18.
The Welsh Government has been reforming student finance in Wales, following a review of higher education funding led by Professor Sir Ian Diamond which reported in 2016.
The reforms include an increase in the amount of total support available to £17,000 and a move to help students with their day-to-day living costs, rather than for tuition fees only.
The reforms also include improved support for Master’s students, designed to make access to post-graduate qualifications accessible to more graduates.
The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has previously set a goal of a 10% increase in the number of Welsh post-graduate students by the end of this Government term.
The figures published today show a 33% increase in enrolments by first year postgraduate students from Wales since 2015/16.
The Welsh Government also introduced improved support for part-time students from the academic year 2018-19. There was a 6.9% increase in first year part-time undergraduates from Wales.
In response to the figures, the Education Minister said:
“I want to make higher education more accessible to people from Wales, so these figures are welcome.
“The number of enrolments are especially pleasing given that the number of 18-year-olds in Wales has fallen in recent years.
“Since I accepted the recommendations of the Diamond Review three years ago we’ve reformed our support for undergraduates and postgraduates from Wales, making ours the most generous student package in the UK.
“Improving access to higher education is a key driver of social mobility.
“I’m particularly pleased with the increase in post-graduates, by more than 1,500, which play an important role in supplying talented researchers and innovators to help grow our economy.”
To note: The figures do not include Welsh students studying at the Open University. If Welsh-based OU students are included, the number of undergraduate students studying part-time has increased this year by 1,070 (4.9%), following a six year decline.