Applications from International Students to UK Universities Increase Once More


The number of international students applying for undergraduate courses at UK universities has increased for the second consecutive year, despite stricter government immigration rules. The latest data shows 115,730 students from outside the UK applied to start in September, a slight increase from 114,910 last year. This comes amid allegations that universities have lowered their standards to attract overseas students, who are charged significantly more than UK students.

However, the number of international applicants is still lower than the peak of 116,110 before the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the rise in applications, there are concerns that actual enrolments may decrease. Universities rely on international students to fund domestic education, and a drop in numbers could make it more difficult for universities to offer places to home students.

Most international students in the UK study postgraduate courses, which are not included in the new data. The tuition fee for international students can be as high as £38,000 per year for undergraduate courses and £30,000 per year for postgraduate courses.

New immigration rules this year mean international students can no longer bring family members with them unless they are on research courses or have government-funded scholarships. This, along with competition from universities in other countries and UK government rhetoric, is seen as a challenge for universities.

The British Council predicts that the boom in international student numbers will end this year due to increasing political pressure against migration and the rising cost of studying in the UK. The government aims to have 600,000 international students per year studying in the UK by 2030, citing the significant economic benefits they bring.

However, there are concerns about universities lowering standards to recruit overseas students. A recent report claimed that international students were using “secret routes” to gain admission to prestigious universities. Universities UK has announced a review of admissions processes to ensure fairness.

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