UK Universities Rely on Education Agents to Recruit Int'l Students: £28M Spent by One Institution Alone

United Kingdom Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Nov 23, 2023

United Kingdom

Education agents connecting international students with universities in the United Kingdom are earning enormous amounts of money through fees paid by institutions for the service.

According to figures obtained by the Observer, only one university spent £28 million on agent fees last year alone. A recent analysis by the Guardian showed that 20 percent of the total income generated by UK universities comes from international students.

Reports say that some universities have paid agents between £2,000 and £8,000 per student. About ten years ago, the amount stood at £1,000, Erudera.com reports.

The investigation by the Observer indicates that the University of Greenwich allocated more than £28.7 million to education agents during the 2022/23 academic year, marking a significant increase from £18.3 million in 2021/22 and £3.3 million in 2017/18.

The amount was allocated to 230 agencies, contributing to the recruitment of 2,986 postgraduates and 500 undergraduates over the year.

The same data suggests that, on average, the London university offered agents £8,235 per student, while prestigious universities such as Oxford and Cambridge stated they do not collaborate with education agents.

Out of the 20 institutions that provided information on their spending, the majority reported an increase.

Commenting on the issue, the Universities UK, the representative body for 142 universities in the country, told the Guardian that more students are collaborating for agents, which the organization described as trusted partners for universities, to assist with the application, selection, and visa processes and at the same time to prevent abuse.

Last year, just under 500,000 sponsored visas were granted to students, a 23 percent increase compared to the previous year, Home Office data show. A total of 98,398 graduate route visas were also granted.

UK study visas also increased by more than 108 percent in the year ending June 2019 before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Indian students accounted for the majority of sponsored study visas, with data showing that 142,848 sponsored study visas were granted to Indians in the year ending June 2023, up 54 percent compared to the previous year.

There were a total of 679,970 international students in the UK in the 2021/22 academic year, of which 120,140 were from the EU and 559,825 from non-EU countries.

During the same academic year, international students contributed a total of £42 billion to the UK’s economy, an increase from the £31.3 billion recorded in 2018/19.

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