University applications up for first time in three years, fuelled by rise in international students

The Telegraph is reporting that university applications have gone up for the first time in three years – but the rise is fuelled by soaring applications from overseas rather the British students.

Figures from Ucas, the university admissions service, show that 561,420 people have applied to start a course this autumn, the first increase since 2016.

The rise is driven by to a record 63,690 students from outside the European Union (EU) applying to UK institutions, an increase of 9 per cent compared to last year.

Under EU laws, universities must charge European students the same level of fees as their British peers, but non-EU students can be charged at a higher rate. 

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said the figures show that international students are clearly not being “put off” by Brexit.

“I suspect there are two things driving the rise,” he said. “One is the underlying strength of the sector, our universities perform very well in global league tables.

“But there is another driving factor here too: the value of the pound. If you are sitting in Delhi or Beijing and thinking ‘where do I want to study?’ the value of the pound really matters as it makes our courses seem much cheaper.”

In England 38.8 per cent of the 18-year-old population applied, a 1.4 percentage point increase on the application rate at this time in 2018.

The number of applicants from China increased by a third this year, rising from 11,915 to 15,880. This follows an increase of 20.6 per cent last year, and brings Chinese applicant numbers to almost the same level as those from either Wales or Northern Ireland, at 18,855 and 17,910 respectively.

Read more University applications up for first time in three years, fuelled by rise in international students

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