Rise in overseas applicants for UK HE

July 11, 2013

Applications for UK undergraduate places from both EU students and non-EU students have increased compared with last year, according to 2013 cycle figures released by Ucas, the country’s university admissions service.

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Up to June 2013, Ucas had received applications from 64,680 non-EU students, an increase of six per cent over 61,041 at the same stage last year. EU students from outside of the UK rose by 4.3 per cent to 43,332. There was further good news for higher education institutions as domestic applications from England, Northern Ireland and Scotland were also up.

In terms of global regions, there were increases from Africa (4.8 per cent), the Americas (5.7), Australasia (12.5), non-EU Europe (10.1), the Far East (2.6) and the Middle East (7.8). Meanwhile, applicants from Malaysia, an increasingly important source country for the UK, rose by 25.8 per cent.

Institutions in Northern Ireland and Wales received a significant increase in non-EU applicants – 16.3 per cent and 18.6 per cent respectively; England and Scotland both registered a 6.1 per cent increase.

However, it must be noted that the Ucas application figures for international students are not comprehensive, as many students apply directly to institutions. Nonetheless, the government is likely to take the data as evidence that its immigration policy has not damaged the attractiveness of the UK’s higher education sector.

As reported previously, the number of student visas issued for study at higher education level increased in the year to March 2013, while other sectors fell, according to the Office of National Statistics. 

Meanwhile, the Higher Education Better Regulation Group has estimated that the UK’s higher education sector is spending as much as UK£67 million (US$101 million) on Tier 4 Student Visa compliance, based on its recent survey of 24 higher education institutions.

Andrew Boggs, Policy Advisor for the group, said, “Higher education institutions are prepared to meet Home Office expectations on student visa compliance, but confusion over requirements and constant rule changes have led to waste and overspending in an effort to comply.” The report listed 11 changes since April 2011 and noted wide variability between institutions on their compliance spending.
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