UK universities attracting record number of non-EU students

UK university applications from overseas countries outside the EU rose by eight per cent to hit record numbers this year, according to UCAS.

University students at a graduation ceremony
The number of people from outside the European Union applying to study at UK universities and colleges this autumn has reached an all-time high, according to new figures.

UK Universities continue to attract global applicants

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS) said the number of applicants from outside the EU this year had increased by eight per cent to reach a record 65,440, with Chinese students leading the way – 13,070 have so far applied from the mainland with a further 5,550 from Hong Kong.Increased numbers of applications have also been received from other major recruitment areas, including India (5,000), the US (4,290) and Malaysia (3,490).And despite the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, there has also been a two per cent increase in the number of applicants from EU countries. The 46,040 so far registered include 4,830 from France, 3,930 from Ireland and similar numbers from Poland, Italy, Spain and Germany.Overall, though, when UK applicants are included, there has been a two per cent drop – to 590,270 – in the total number of applicants, mainly as a result of a fall in the number of 18-year-old Britons applying. This drop, UCAS said, was primarily due to a population decline in this age group, although the proportion of 18-year-olds applying had actually reached a record high.
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Age demographic of university applicants

UCAS added that there had also been a fall in the number of older applicants, particularly for nursing courses, which have seen a 10 per cent drop this year.Clare Marchant, UCAS chief executive, said, “Today’s figures show the enduring attraction of a full-time degree for young people, and the desirability of UK higher education to students from around the world.“Whilst this is undoubtedly good news, we must not overlook the continuing fall in applications from older UK students, particularly to study nursing.“We would like to see the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding in England address specifically the needs of mature students who wish to develop their potential through higher education, whatever subjects or types of study they are interested in.“It’s also important to remember that most universities and colleges are still keen to receive applications, and students can still make applications via UCAS until June 30, when clearing begins. We will be publishing a comprehensive picture of the full 2018 admissions cycle in December.”A Department for Education spokesman said, “It is good news that we continue to see record rates of 18-year-olds applying to go to university this year.“We want to ensure everyone who wants to has the opportunity to benefit from a university education, regardless of their background.“But we recognise that university is not the right option for every school-leaver. That is why we are transforming apprenticeships and technical education, including introducing new T-level qualifications, to give people high quality options that are right for them.”
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