How many international students are there in the UK and where do they come from?
How is the number of new enrolments from each sending country changing year on year?
How many students applied for a study visa in recent years and where do they come from?
How many international students applied to study in the UK through UCAS?
In 2018/19 there were 485,645 international students studying in the UK. 143,025 of these were from the EU and 342,620 were non-EU.
Chinese students make up the largest cohort with 120,385 studying in the UK in 2018/19. China is followed by 26,685 students from India and 20,120 from the USA. Italian and French students are the two largest cohorts from the EU with almost
14,000 students each studying in the UK in 2018/19.
In 2018/19 the total number of non-EU students grew by 7% whilst EU student number grew by
3%. However, growth has not been cosistently strong over the past ten years.
In the EU, there is notable decline from top senders such as France, Germany, Greece and Ireland since well before the 2016 EU referendum. There was a particular drop in growth between 2011 and 2012, which could have been triggered by the rise in tuition fees for undergraduates from £3,000 a year to £9,000.
Internationally, growth has largely been driven by the consistent rise in the number of new enrolments from China, although even here there was a small plateau in growth between 2011 and 2014. With the notable exception of the US and Singapore, most other major sending countries have seen a decline in growth. India has seen some recovery in the number of enrolments to the UK in recent years, with significant growth of 35% in 2018.
According to HESA total enrolment figures for the top 10 sending countries to the UK in 2018/19 were:
According to HESA the number of new enrollments for the top 10 sending countries to the UK in 2018/19 were:
First year enrolments:
In 2017/18, the number of international students (EU and non-EU) enrolling for the first year of an undergraduate degree grew by 3%, to 104,555. This growth was driven by the number of non-EU first-year undergraduates (up 4%) while the number of EU first-year undergraduates remained relatively stable compared to last year.
In 2017/18, the number of first-year international postgraduates saw a 7% growth on 2016/17, totalling 143,130. Similarly to first-year undergraduate students, this reflected a rise in first-year non-EU postgraduate students (up 10%) and a slight decline in first-year EU postgraduate students (down 2%).
Postgraduate taught (PGT) vs postgraduate research (PGR), total enrolments:
When data is broken down into PGT and PGR students, it becomes clear that growth in non-UK postgraduate enrolments is driven by non-EU PGT students (up 8% on 2016/17), while trends for EU PGT/PGR enrolments and non-EU PGT enrolments are negative (down 2/3% on previous year for all three categories).
Postgraduate taught (PGT) vs postgraduate research (PGR), first enrolments:
First-year PGT enrolments increased for non-EU students (up 10% on previous year) and slightly dropped for EU students (down 2%). Non-EU first-year PGR enrolment also saw an upward trend (up 5% on 2016/17), while the EU counterpart saw a drop (down 4% on previous year in first-year PGR students).
The map below shows the number of first year enrolments from each country in the world in the selected academic year, you can also break down this data by level of study. If you hover over a country, you will see the change in total first year enrolments from that country over the period of 2007/08 to 2017/18 for the selected level of study.
The map below shows the number of Tier 4 student visas applied for from each country in the world in the year to the selected quarter. If you hover over a country, you will see the change in visa applications from that country over the period of 2010 to the most recent quarter available.
The latest visa figures for the year to September 2019 show:
According to visa statistics the Tier 4 visa numbers for top 10 non-EU sending countries to the UK in the year ending September 2019 were:
For further search data and analysis, take a look at IDP Connect and UUKi’s joint international student behaviour data briefings.
Indian student search data [PDF]
International student search behaviour 1 [PDF]
International student search behaviour 2 [PDF]