International Student Statistics in UK 2021

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The UK is consistently increasing in popularity to international students, with thousands of ambitious students choosing to pursue their qualification in one of the many top-notch UK universities. With its world-recognised universities, culturally diverse environment, and highly-skilled academic staff, the UK is truly the epitome of academic success.

Below you will find the latest international student numbers in the UK.

International Students in UK Growth Trend Over the Years

  • According to 2018/2019 statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, there are currently 485,645 international students pursuing their degree in the UK. The number has experienced an increase from the previous year statistics which encompassed a total of 458,520.
  • The UK Government has announced that the number of students who were granted a Sponsored Study (Tier 4) visa in the year ending in September 2019, was 276,889. This has shown to be a 16% increase from the previous year, and was noted to be the highest level of Tier 4 granted visas since the year 2011.
  • The total number of students enrolled in Higher Education institutions, as of 2018/2019, is 2,383,970, including both international as well as students whose home country is the UK. This has shown a 2% increase from 2017/18.
  • 32% of first year non-UK students, which translates to a total of 86,485, are international students arriving from China.

International students in UK

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Top countries of origin of international students in the UK

  • Statistics show that the total number of international students in the UK is currently 485,645, as of 2018/2019.
  • A total of 342,620 students arrived in the UK to pursue their qualification from countries outside of the European Union.
  • A total of 143,025 students enrolled in UK higher education institutions are from other countries of the European Union, excluding the UK.

Non-EU International Students in the UK Statistics

  • The majority of international students coming from non-EU countries come from China, with a total of 120,385 students enrolled in higher education institutions in the UK. This means, 35% of all non-EU students are from China, as of 2018/2019 statistics.
  • India comes second among the top countries of origin of non-EU students in the UK, with a total of 26,685 students.
  • The United States follows right behind, sending a total of 20,120 students to pursue a qualification in the UK.
  • Hong-Kong and Malaysia are fourth and fifth when it comes to international students’ countries of origin, with the former sending a total of 16,135 students; while the latter sending a total of 13,835 students.
  • Five other non-EU countries of origin sending the most students to the UK are Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Canada, and Thailand.

EU International Students in the UK Statistics

  • The complete number of international students coming from other EU countries, excluding the UK, is 143,025, out of which the majority come from Italy, with a total of 13,965
  • After Italy, the EU country sending the most students in the UK to pursue a degree is France. As of 2018/2019 statistics, there are 13,675 students in the UK whose country of origin is France.
  • Germany and Spain are also among EU countries sending the most students to the UK, with a total of 13,475 and 10,380 students.
  • The other countries sending the most students to the UK, include Greece, Romania, Ireland, Cyprus, Poland, and Bulgaria.

Here’s a list of UK universities with most international students:

EU Non-EU Total
University College London 4,930 13,060 17,990
The University of Manchester 2,785 10,965 13,750
The University of Edinburgh 3,725 8,300 12,025
King’s College London 4,080 7,095 11,175
The University of Glasgow 3,175 5,640 8,815
The University of Oxford 2,640 5,570 8,210
The University of Cambridge 2,635 4,415 7,050
The University of Westminster 2,285 4,090 6,375
The University of Aberdeen 2,865 1,915 4,780
The University of York 890 3,185 4,075

Most Popular Subjects for International Students in UK

  • The most popular subjects for international students in the UK include Business & Administrative studies, Social studies, Studies allied to medicine, as well as Creative Arts.
  • According to 2017/2018 statistics, around 127,335 international students in the UK were pursuing a degree in Business & Administrative studies. This makes this degree one of the top choices for international students.
  • A total of 43,145 international students were enrolled in Social studies, while the subjects allied to Medicine gathered a number of 22,045 international students.
  • In the field of Creative Arts, there was a total of 32,890 international students, as of 2017/2018 statistics.

International students in UK by Level of Study and Domicile

  • The postgraduate-taught level in UK higher education institutions saw an increase in student numbers coming from non-EU countries. More specifically, the number grew by 18,475 between 2017-2019.
  • Full-time postgraduate students from non-EU countries had the highest percentage of international students, meaning 45%.
  • Higher education institutions in England have the highest percentage of non-EU students, while higher education institutions in Scotland hold the highest percentage of international students coming from other EU countries.
  • According to the latest statistics by HESA, as of 2018/2019, there are 94,200 international students coming from other EU countries, enrolled in full-time undergraduate programmes in the UK. Additionally, there are 160,135 international students coming from outside of the EU, at the same level of study.
  • 34,910 international students from inside of the EU are enrolled in full-time postgraduate programmes in the UK, while 159,430 students at the same level of study come from countries outside of the EU.

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