Decline in International Postgraduate Enrollment at UK Universities Raises Concerns

United Kingdom Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Feb 28, 2024

Big Ben, United Kingdom

UK universities have witnessed a decrease in the number of international students enrolling in postgraduate courses, new figures show.

According to data from Enroly, a platform that automates visa and arrival process for universities and their students, the number of offers to international postgraduate students in UK universities has dropped by 37 percent this January compared to January 2023, Erudera.com reports.

The same data indicate a sharp drop in the number of international students interested in enrolling in UK university courses, with the most significant decline in students from Nigeria. In January 2024, there was a 70 percent decrease in the number of Nigerian students seeking postgraduate education compared to the same month in 2023.

The demand for UK university courses from students from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and India has also dropped by 53 percent, 42 percent, and 32 percent, respectively.

Commenting on these figures, which mirror the situation in postgraduate courses since the government’s changes to immigration policy, Vivienne Stern, the chief executive of Universities UK, said they are concerning for the wider sector.

“Its findings are further confirmation that policy changes by the government are already having a significant impact on international student demand — and we are now at serious risk of an overcorrection,” Stern told the Financial Times.

The number of international students in the United Kingdom increased by about 36 percent from the 2018/19 academic year, when 500,000 international students studied in UK higher education institutions, to nearly 680,000 in 2021/22.

According to a recent report from the Telegraph, the number of international students in the UK during the 2022/2023 academic year reached 787,000. These figures have been unveiled by the Centre for Migration Control (CMC), a think tank focused on migration reduction.

The UK government introduced new rules for international students in the country last summer. The rules ban international students from bringing their family members to the UK under their student visa unless they are in research postgraduate programs.

“From 1 January 2024, tough government action means most international students can now no longer bring family members to the UK,” the government said in a statement published earlier in January 2, 2024.

These restrictions, according to the government, aim to cut net migration while protecting the benefits that international students bring to the country. Levels of immigration in the UK increased since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that net migration was 672,000 between June 2022 and June 2023. The country issued a total of 152,980 visas to students' dependents in the year ending September 2023, a 930 percent increase from the 14,839 in the same period in 2019.

© Ugur Akdemir | Unsplash

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