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Who enters university?

Eighteen-year-olds armed with three A-levels still make up the largest group of entrants to first-degree courses in the UK. But the latest statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency clearly show the increasingly non-traditional nature of many entrants.

Only three-fifths of the 355,000 students starting first-degree courses in 1994-95 had A-levels, Scottish Highers or equivalent. The rest had a variety of qualifications, ranging from first degrees to the university of life.

Of 1.4 million home students on higher education courses, three out of 10 were part-time. Most part-timers were over 25 and the majority were women.

In 1994-95, the UK's higher education system had 1.6 million students, 115,000 members of staff and an income of Pounds 10 billion.

Well over half of home students - and most full-timers - get a mandatory or discretionary grant from their local education authority.

The number taking out loans has risen sharply, from 261,000 in 1991-92 to 517,000 in 1994-95, bringing the proportion up to 55 per cent of those eligible.

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