Overseas student total falls ‘for first time’ as Indian numbers collapse

The number of non-EU students at UK universities fell by 1 per cent last year, the first such decline ever recorded.

January 16, 2014

The fall in the number of students from outside the EU in 2012-13, revealed in Higher Education Statistics Agency figures published today, will heighten concerns among universities over the impact of the coalition government’s drive to cut immigration.

There was also a 25 per cent drop in the number of Indian first-year students starting courses in 2012-13, following on from a 32 per cent fall the previous year.

That means the number of Indian first-year students starting courses has halved in just two years, falling from 23,985 in 2010-11 to 12,280 in 2012-13.

Universities have warned that the government’s abolition of the post-study work visa was deterring students from coming to the UK, while currency exchange rates are also thought to now be a particular problem for Indians considering the UK.

India is the second largest source of non-EU students for British universities, behind China. By contrast, the number of Chinese first-year students starting courses in 2012-13 rose 6 per cent.

Until now, the number of non-EU students at UK universities had risen every single year since the Higher Education Statistics Agency began keeping records in 1994-95.

Universities have become accustomed to continual, significant rises in their income from full-fee non-EU students.

In 2009-10, the number of non-EU students at British universities rose by 12 per cent, and in 2010-11 by 6 per cent.

In 2011-12, the rise slowed to 1.5 per cent, followed by last year’s 1 per cent fall, from 302,680 to 299,970.

Non-EU students made up 13 per cent of the total student population at UK universities in 2012-13, according to the Hesa figures.

The fall in non-EU numbers was severest in the part-time category, where the fall was 19 per cent. Undergraduate numbers were down 2 per cent.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

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