Surge in non-EU students at UK universities

The number of Tier 4 visas granted to non-EU students in 2019 increased by 16%, with the total attending UK universities hitting an all-time high.

Union Jack flag with an international student standing in front of it holding a passport
An analysis of official data by the global media and recruitment organisation Professionals in International Education (PIE) showed that in the year to September, 276,889 Tier 4 visas were granted to students from outside the European Economic Area – a rise of 37,510 on 2018.

Higher education: China and India account for more than 50% of all non-EEA student visas granted

Some 222,047 of those visas were for higher education students heading for British universities, representing a 14% increase on the previous year and taking the total to an all-time high.Based on figures from the Office for National Statistics, the report said that, together, China and India accounted for more than half of all non-EEA Tier 4 visas granted (43% and 11% respectively). Visas for Chinese students numbered 119,697 while India saw an increase this year of 11,820.Saudi Arabia also saw a 12% rise in visas granted, bringing the total to 9,123. Numbers from the two other largest sources of students - the US and Hong Kong - remained almost unchanged at 14,987 and 9,095 respectively.

British Council: post-study work visa will improve UK recruitment growth

Matt Durnin, global head of insights and consultancy at the British Council, praised the government's decision to re-introduce the post-study work visa and said that the year-on-year growth was beginning to return to the peak seen ten years ago.“This is our first good look at what recruitment has looked like in 2019,” he said. “With a stronger post-study work offer, we are going to see even more growth.“The question is: who is that going to benefit? What does concern me a bit is, across all of the major English-speaking study destinations, we do see a softening of admissions criteria.”The figures showed that, outside of the top five countries sending students to the UK, there was a 4% increase in visas, representing a total of 93,437, with SE Asia recording moderate growth.“There were a couple of bright spots in Indonesia and a much more positive story from Vietnam. We have seen over the years, for South Asia, India is definitely back. And it’s going to grow tremendously next year as well,” said Mr Durnin.

UK Further Education loses its appeal

The one sector of the UK education system that has seen a progressive loss of appeal over the years has been further education. In 2011, 100,371 visas for further education were granted; this year, the total was 13,223.But Anne-Marie Graham, chief executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, said, “The continued increase in the number of international students choosing to study in the UK is evidence of the quality of our education sector and the experience it offers to those coming from overseas.“It also shows how campaigns such as #WeAreInternational are critical to the success of the international education strategy, ensuring we attract students from all countries and regions as well as maintaining the numbers of students from China and India.”

80% of Brits support visas for overseas academics, scientists and education staff

A poll commissioned by Universities UK has shown that 80% of Britons believe overseas academics, scientists and education support staff should be allowed in the country based on an assessment of their skills, and not subject to a minimum salary threshold.The survey of more than 4,000 adults conducted by Savanta ComRes also found that 69% felt a post-Brexit points-based immigration system should be designed to favour scientists, academics and their support staff.Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said, "Technicians, researchers and language assistants are all vital in supporting both high-quality teaching and innovative research at our universities. These skilled roles are critical to the ongoing success of our universities."As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it is more vital than ever that the UK remains a world leader in science and research and continues to attract international talent at different stages of their careers - from support staff and technicians to Nobel Prize winners."

Read more news and views about Education, Immigration and Brexit

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory