International Student Statistics in UK 2022

International students in UK

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

Just recently, the UK has hit its 600,000 international student target a decade earlier than hoped!

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

International Students in UK Growth Trend Over the Years

  • According to 2020/2021 statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, there are currently 605,130 international students pursuing their degrees in the UK. The number has experienced an increase from the previous year’s statistics which encompassed a total of 556,625 international students
  • Compared to the previous year (2019/2020), the number of international students in the UK has experienced significant growth. Specifically, an increase of 8.71%
  • The total number of students enrolled in Higher Education institutions in the UK currently stands at 2,751,865, across all institutions. This is an increase of 8.7% compared to the total number of students in the 2019/2020 academic year (2,532,385).
  • Subsequently, both international student numbers, as well as total Higher Education student numbers, have experienced similar increases (around 8.7%), meaning they have progressed at the same rate.
  • The Higher Education Statistics Agency reported 485,645* international students pursuing their degrees in the UK in 2018/2019. The number has experienced an increase from the previous year’s 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.
  • In 2021, 32% (the majority) of the total number of international students in the UK come from China, meaning there are roughly 143,820 students from China in the UK.
  • Two years ago, 32% of first-year non-UK students, a total of 86,485, were international students arriving from China.
*Reports from the 2018/2019 academic year were later updated by HESA with an actual estimation of 496,110 international students in the UK during this academic year. 

Top Countries of Origin of International Students in the UK

  • Statistics show that the total number of international students in the UK is 605,130 as of 2020/2021.
  • As of 2020/21, a total of 452,225 students are currently in the UK to pursue their qualifications from countries outside of the European Union.
  • As of 2020/21, a total of 152,905 students in UK higher education institutions are from countries of the European Union, excluding the UK.
  • In the 2019/2020 academic year, there were a total of 556,625 international students in the UK. Specifically, 408,825 of them were from countries outside the EU, meanwhile, 147,800 were from countries within the EU.
  • In 2018/2019, a total of 342,620 students arrived in the UK to pursue their qualifications from countries outside of the European Union.
  • In 2018/2019, a total of 143,025 students enrolled in UK higher education institutions are from other countries of the European Union, excluding the UK.

International Students in The UK

Non-EU International Students in the UK Statistics

[updated]

  • The total number of non-EU international students in the UK is 452,225.
  • The majority of non-EU students in the UK come from China, a total of 143,820 students currently pursuing their higher education in the UK.
  • India is the second non-EU country sending the most students to the UK, currently, a total of 84,555 students.
  • After India, the third non-EU country sending the most students to the UK is Nigeria, with a total of 21,305 students currently enrolled in UK institutions.
  • United States is fourth, with a total of 19,220 students currently enrolled in UK higher education institutions. 
  • Fifth on the list is Hong Kong, with a total of 16,655 students currently enrolled in UK universities.
  • The five other non-EU countries (in the top 10) sending the most students to the UK are Pakistan (12,975), Malaysia (11,510), Saudi Arabia (8,825), Canada (6,785), and Singapore (6,580).

[2018/2019] the previous version of this article reported:

  • 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

[updated]

  • The total number of EU international students in the UK is 152,905.
  • The majority of UK international students coming from EU countries are from Italy, a total of 14,605 students currently in the UK.
  • Second on the list is France, with a total of 14,090 students currently studying in the UK.
  • After France, Romania stands third as the EU country with the most students in the UK, a total of 12,860 students
  • Spain is the fourth EU country with the highest number of students in the UK, a total of 12,290 students
  • Germany follows Spain rather closely, with a total of 12,250 students currently studying in the UK.
  • The other five EU countries (in the top 10) sending the most students to study abroad in the UK are Poland (10,755), Ireland (9,740), Greece (9,555), Portugal (8,470), and Cyprus (8,335).

[2018/2019] the previous version of this article reported:

  • 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.

Top UK Universities by Number of International Students

  • University College London is the top university by the number of international students, with a total of 23,360
  • The University of Manchester (17,625), University of Edinburgh (15,590), and King’s College London (15,550) follow right behind.
  • As of 2020/2021, next on the list are Coventry University, The University of Glasgow, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, The University of Sheffield, University of the Arts, London, and The University of Leeds.
  • The top four universities are the same now as they were two years ago in the 2018/2019 academic year. 
  • In the 2018/2019 academic year, the University of Oxford (6th), as well as the University of Cambridge (7th), also made the top 10 list. Now, they have been replaced by The University of Glasgow (6th) and Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (7th).

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

University EU Non-EU Total Non-UK
University College London 5,410 17,945 23,360
The University of Manchester 3,160 14,465 17,625
The University of Edinburgh 3,740 11,855 15,590
King’s College London 4,645 10,905 15,550
Coventry University 3,800 9,960 13,760
The University of Glasgow 3,095 10,150 13,245
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine 3,300 7,965 11,265
The University of Sheffield 1,465 9,800 11,260
University of the Arts, London 2,955 8,280 11,230
The University of Leeds 1,485 8,970 10,455

Most Popular Subjects for International Students in the 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 the UK by Level of Study And Domicile

  • The majority of international students in the UK are full-time postgraduate students from non-EU countries of origin.
  • In other words, full-time postgraduate students coming from non-EU countries of origin have the highest percentage in international student statistics, a total of 49% (or 230,085 students across higher education institutions in the UK). 
  • 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.
  • According to the latest statistics by HESA, as of 2020/2021, there are 106,095 (6%) international students coming from EU countries, enrolled in full-time undergraduate programs in the UK. Additionally, there are 192,510 (11%) international students coming from outside of the EU, at the same level of study.
  • The number of full-time UG international students from the EU increased by 12.63% from 2018/2019 to 2020/2021. Two years ago this number amounted to 94,200 having increased to 106,095 today. 
  • The number of full-time UG international students from outside of the EU also increased during the same period of time, from 160,135 in 2018/2019 to 192,510 in 2020/2021.
  • 34,305 international students from the EU are enrolled in full-time postgraduate programs in the UK, a decrease of 1.73% from two years ago in 2018/2019 (34,910).
  • 230,085 international students from outside of the EU are enrolled in full-time postgraduate programs in the UK, an increase of 44.32% from two years ago in 2018/2019 (159,430).