Nearly 600,000 students are studying for a UK higher education qualification overseas, new statistics have revealed, a 4.9 per cent increase on last year.
These are students studying at UK branch campuses overseas, on distance learning programmes, or taking programmes offered by local partners validated by British universities.
Almost half of these students are based in Asia, and those in Malaysia and Singapore account for one in five of the total, according to the data released today by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
A total of 353,975 students are studying for an award of a UK institution but not actually registered with them.
Of the students who are registered with a UK institution, 123,635 are on “distance, flexible or distributed learning” programmes, while 103,795 are on other types of programme, including collaborative courses.
Just 17,520 are studying at overseas branch campuses.
Of all the overseas students, around 500,000 are on undergraduate programmes, and 100,000 are postgraduates.
However, Hesa points out that 43.7 per cent of the total number of students – around 260,000 – are registered at Oxford Brookes University, mostly studying for an Association of Chartered Certified Accountants qualification with overseas partners.
Last year the Quality Assurance Agency revealed that many of these accountancy students found it difficult to use such qualifications in their home countries, which often did not recognise distance-learning degrees or overseas accountancy qualifications.
The issue of non-recognition “is a particular concern in China, which does not recognise overseas degrees delivered by distance learning”, it said.