How many film students are there in the UK?

Film studentsLast week I published figures for the huge growth in the UK Film sector in the last decade. This sparked a number of people to contact me and ask about if this boom is mirrored in the number of people studying film in higher education. The short answer is, kinda. There has certainly been a massive increase in film students in the last eight years, however its growth curve is largely uncorrelated to that of jobs within the film industry. I found that…

  • The number of UK film students grew by 240% between 2004 and 2012
  • Of 2012 film students, 17% were studying ‘Film Production’ and 83% ‘Film Studies’
  • Between 2004-12, ‘Film Production’ students grew by 589%
  • More and more ‘media students’ are focusing on film
  • 12.5% of film students end up working in the ‘Arts, Design & Culture’ sector
  • 34% of ex-film students work in ‘Retail / Catering’

More film students and more practical courses

Between 2004 and 2012, the number of UK film students grew from 1,625 to 5,530 – that’s a 240% increase in just eight years. If we look deeper at those numbers we can see that the majority of students studying ‘film’ in higher education are on ‘Film Studies’ courses. In 2004 there were just 135 students studying on ‘Film Production’ courses (of which I was one) whereas by 2012 this number had ballooned to 930 (a 589% increase!)

More media students are studying film topics

Film is forming an increasingly large share of overall media studies. Of the students studying media-related topics in higher education in 2004, 6.8% were reading ‘Film studies’ and only 0.6% were studying ‘Film Production’. By 2012, the percentage of media studies courses focusing on ‘Film Studies’ had grown to 18.2% with ‘Film Production’ courses increasing to 3.7%. This means that in 2004, one in every thirteen media students was reading film, whereas in 2012 this became one in four.

What Happens After Graduation?

Of the film students who graduated in 2009, 70% were employed six months later.

However, amongst those 2009 film graduates, only 12.5% were working in the ‘Arts, Design & Culture’ sector.


Today’s data came from Prospects, the Guardian, the BFI, Higher Education Statistics Agency and Higher Education Careers Services Unit. A couple of years ago Chris Jones and I took part in a panel discussion at a film festival.  The topic was something along the lines of ‘Do You Need A Film Degree To Work In Film?’  Chris and I were labelled ‘the filmmakers’ and there were a couple of film education professionals who sat opposite us, labeled ‘the film schools’.  During the course of the discussion we all ended up arguing against our personal experiences – Chris and I have both studied film at university and felt it wasn’t needed whereas the two teachers hadn’t, and wished they had!