Latest UK visa numbers indicate continuing strong growth in international HE enrolments this year – ICEF Monitor

Little time? Here are the highlights:

  • UK study visa grants reached nearly 490,000 in 2022, an 81% increase from pre-pandemic levels
  • China and Nigeria are the most important growth drivers along with some important South Asian markets
  • Just over nine out of ten student visa grants in 2022 were for higher education
  • Rising visa numbers have been accompanied this year by ongoing media speculation about a tougher political climate for international education, with the Home Office reportedly examining proposals to curb foreign student numbers

International enrollment in UK higher education increased by more than 12% in the 2021/22 academic year, driven by increasing demand from non-EU markets and particularly from China, India and Nigeria.

If the latest Home Office visa figures are any indication, this pattern extends into 2023 with record-high visa grants again led by demand from students outside the European Union.

The UK Government reports a total of 485,758 sponsored study visas granted to principal applicants for the full calendar year 2022. This is 81% above pre-COVID levels (as of 2019) and a 29% year-over-year increase.

Sponsored study visas granted to principal applicants between 2013 and 2022 by nationality grouping. Note: The graph shows that from January 2021 after the UK leaves the EU, nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland will need a visa to pursue sponsored studies in the UK. Source: UK Home Office

The Home Office data release confirms higher education enrollment growth of over 12% for 2021/22, but also indicates that visa grant growth is even greater through 2022. “The Visa data from the Ministry of the Interior … shows a larger increase in demand for sponsored study visas over a similar period (+63% granted in the year to June 2022 (405,779) compared to the year to June 2021 (249,645), after a significant drop during COVID- 19). This suggests that the recent increase in visa numbers is more pronounced, reflecting both the impact of overcoming the pandemic and the steady growth in enrollments of foreign nationals in the higher education sector.”

Read  WildBrain Ltd.'s (TSE:WILD) latest 13% decline adds to one-year losses, hedge funds investors may consider drastic measures

Just over nine in ten (91%) 2022 visa grants were for students admitted to higher education in the UK.

South Asia is moving forward

Visa data also shows a different mix of growth markets for 2022, with South Asian markets playing a key role. As we see in the chart below, scholarships for Chinese students declined in 2022, while scholarships for Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi applicants all saw notable increases.

The Home Office states: “In 2022 there were 139,539 sponsored study visas for Indian nationals, an increase of 105,278 (+307%) compared to 2019 (34,261). Chinese nationals were the second most common nationality granted sponsored study visas in 2022 with 102,842 visa grants, down 14% from 119,231 in 2019. Chinese and Indian nationals together account for half (50%) of all sponsored study grants.

Of the top 5 nationalities granted sponsored study visas, Bangladesh nationals saw the largest percentage increase in scholarships, increasing from 1,745 to 15,277, closely followed by Nigerian nationals, whose number increased from 6,798 to 59,053.”

Top Five UK Study Visa Scholarship Sending Markets, 2017–2022. Source: UK Home Office

Not that again

This picture of rising visa issuances for 2022 comes amid ongoing media reports in the UK of a more challenging political climate for international education. The Home Office is interested in new restrictions on international students. And Home Secretary Suella Braverman has reportedly proposed reducing post-graduation working conditions for foreign graduates from the current two years to six months.

Read  Extrapolations | Release date, cast and latest news for Apple TV+ show

times higher educationhas reported, for example, “that on January 20, government agencies were formally asked to present their positions on visa policy options.

It is believed that not only that [Department of Education]but a number of departments – including the Treasury, the Department for International Trade and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – have opposed – for fear of harming the UK’s economic position – the Home Office’s plan to cut the as part of the graduate visa route.”

Resistance to such proposals is supported by the results of a recent public opinion poll which found that 64% of respondents would like the number of international students in the UK to ‘stay the same’. In contrast, just over one in five (21%) would like these numbers to go down.

Responding to media reports of the Home Office’s proposals, Universities UK International Director Jamie Arrowsmith said:

“International students make a huge positive contribution to our universities and to the UK economy… It is vital that the Government does not introduce policies that cause lasting damage to the UK’s global reputation and competitiveness and to local economies across the country.

For many years, the visa and immigration environment meant that international recruitment in the UK stagnated while other countries saw tremendous growth. This has placed the UK at a strategic disadvantage as it means missed opportunities to work together, lost talent that could contribute to our universities and businesses and lost economic growth. Essentially, the government made a conscious political choice not to capitalize on a national strength – to discourage rather than lure students to the UK.

Read  Michael B. Jordan Is Still Simmering after Angela Bassett Oscars Outrage

To rectify this, the UK government published an international education strategy in 2019 and introduced the graduate pathway, allowing international students to work in the UK for up to two or three years after graduation. We urge the government not to reverse course. Our universities understand that recruitment must be sustainable and they will continue to work with their local and regional partners to ensure they are able to host and support international students and provide a world class experience. But a repeating boom and bust pattern in international recruitment would be a huge mistake. We need a stable and well-run policy that keeps the UK attractive whilst ensuring we continue to demonstrate an exceptionally high level of compliance with all visa and immigration regulations.”

For more background information see:


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button