Overseas student growth ‘not as high as government hopes’

The number of international students coming to UK universities will grow at a slower rate over the next 13 years than is hoped for by the government.

October 8, 2013

That is the upshot of a new British Council report that anticipates the UK will host 568,000 overseas students by 2024, boosted by demand from countries including India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Nigeria, a 29 per cent increase over 2011 levels.

Yet the government’s industrial strategy for education, released in July, says it is “realistic” for international student numbers to grow by 15-20 per cent over the next five years, a much faster rate of growth than expected by the British Council.

Despite this, the British Council report, The Future of the World’s Mobile Students to 2024, released today, is upbeat about the global market for outbound students.

It has revised up previous estimates of international student growth, and now expects numbers to grow at 1.8 per cent a year to 2024, reaching 3.85 million by then.

It points out that despite squeezed household incomes and tougher immigration rules that were introduced in many countries from 2009 to 2011, the number of international students still grew by around 6 per cent a year to 3.04 million.

“This highlights the economic resilience of the higher education sector and the strong growth potential it continues to offer even during more challenging economic times,” it says.

It predicts that by 2024, India will have replaced China as the biggest sender of students to the UK, partly due to an ageing Chinese population.

The US and the UK will remain the biggest markets for international students in 2024, although it says that China, Malaysia and possibly India could be among the top ten countries by this point.

The report does caution that the rapidly growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China could fail to expand as quickly as anticipated, and this would lead to a reduction of around 52,000 students going to host countries like the UK and US by 2018.

Australiawill take on an extra 71,000 students a year by 2024, the report predicts, but this is a slower growth rate than the US or UK.

This is attributed to “the high cost of living and study in Australia as a result of the strong Australian dollar” the report says.


You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show