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International student statistics: UK higher education

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International (non-UK) students in UK HE in 2012-13

  • totalled 425,265 compared with 435,230 in 2011-12 (a decrease of 2%), with full-time taught postgraduate student numbers down 7% (the rate of decrease rose to 11% for EU students in this category), whilst full-time undergraduate numbers rose by 3%.  Most other categories were static or fell slightly.
  • made up 15% of full-time first degree students and 13% of all first degree students
  • made up 71% of full-time taught postgraduates and 47% of all taught postgraduates
  • made up 49% of full-time research degree students and 41% of all research postgraduates
  • The tables below are derived from data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency For more detailed information about their data please see their website and publications. Note: totals differ in the tables below due to rounding within the HESA data.

    International students in UK HE by domicile, level and mode,
    European Union (EU) (excluding UK) and non-EU, 2012-13

    Level of Study/Domicile Full-time Part-time Total
    EU students (non-UK domicile) in HE    
    Higher degree (research) 10,780 2,995 13,775
    Higher degree (taught) 21,820 6,235 28,055
    Postgraduate other 1,700 2,305 4,005
    First degree 70,205 2,845 73,050
    Other undergraduate 1,555 4,850 6,405 
    Total non-UK EU 106,060 19,230 125,290
    Non-EU students in HE    
    Higher degree (research) 27,695 3,240 30,935
    Higher degree (taught) 105,160 11,150 116,310
    Postgraduate other 2,355 3,440 5,795
    First degree 125,550 4,850 130,880 
    Other undergraduate 7,475 8,595 16,070 
    Total non-EU 268,245  31,725  299,970
    All non-UK domicile in HE    
    Higher degree (research) 38,480 6,235  44,710 
    Higher degree (taught) 126,980  17,380  144,360 
    Postgraduate other 4,060  5,730  9,970 
    First degree 195,755  8,170  203,925 
    Other undergraduate 9,035  13,440  22,475 
    Total non-UK 374,310 50,955  425,265 

    International students numbers by UK nation and English regions 2012-13

    Country Total international students % of student population who are international
    England 347,555 18%
    Scotland 46,945 22%
    Wales 24,420 19%
    Northern Ireland 6,340 12%
    UK 425,260 18%

    Breakdown of international students by English region 2011-12

    English region Total international students % of student population who are international
    London 102,965 26%
    South East England 48,670 11%
    West Midlands 36,135 18%
    North West England 34,250 13%
    Yorkshire & Humberside 33,635 16%
    East of England 32,720 24%
    East Midlands 25,940 16%
    South West England 23,910 15%
    North East England 18,855 17%

    Top non-EU sending countries

    Top 10 non-EU senders 2011-12 2010-11
    China (PRC) 78,715 67,325
    India 29,900 39,090
    Nigeria 17,620 17,585
    United States of America 16,335 15,555
    Malaysia 14,545 13,900
    Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region) 11,335 10,440
    Saudi Arabia 9,860 10,270
    Pakistan 8,820 10,185
    Thailand 6,235 5,945
    Canada 6,115 5,905

    Top EU sending countries

    Top 10 EU senders 2011-12 2010-11
    Germany 15,985 16,265
    Republic of Ireland 15,075 16,855
    France 12,835 13,325
    Greece 11,790 11,630
    Cyprus 11,620 11,320
    Poland 6,295 7,330
    Italy 8,010 7,100
    Spain 5,935 5,795
    Romania 5,915 4,625
    Bulgaria 5,705 4,615

    International student numbers by subject area 2011-12

    Ssubject of study No of international students % in subject who are international
    Business & administrative studies 130,505 36%
    Engineering & technology 51,775 32%
    Social studies 38,790 17%
    Creative arts & design 25,250 14%
    Languages 23,270 17%
    Subjects allied to medicine 23,035 8%
    Computer science 21,300 22%
    Law 20,810 22%
    Biological sciences 19,570 10%
    Physical sciences 13,025 14%
    Education 11,725 6%
    Architecture, building & planning 11,415 20%
    Medicine & dentistry 10,605 16%
    Mass communications & documentation 10,400 19%
    Historical & philosophical studies 9,250 9%
    Mathematical sciences 8,160 19%
    Combined 2,890 3%
    Agriculture & related subjects 2,415 11%
    Veterinary sciences 1,025 18%
    Total 435,235 17%

    Top 20 largest recruiters of international students 2012-13

    Institution Non-UK student nos % students at institution who are international
    The University of Manchester 11,675 30%
    University College London 10,370 39%
    The University of Edinburgh 9,820 35%
    The University of Nottingham 8,245 23%
    University of the Arts, London 7,110 36%
    Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine 7,025 44%
    The University of Sheffield 7,010 27%
    The University of Oxford 7,000 27%
    King's College London 6,915 25%
    London School of Economics and Political Science 6,665 67%
    The University of Warwick 6,640 25%
    The University of Cambridge 6,480 33%
    The University of Glasgow 6,475    24%
    Coventry University 6,290 23%
    The City University 5,795 35%
    The University of Leeds 5,715 19%
    The University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 5,609 26%
    The University of Birmingham 5,560 18%
    The University of Southampton 5,525 24%
    The University of Exeter 5,265 28%

    Students studying wholly overseas for a UK qualification

    Type of provision Total number of students 2012-13 Total number of students 2011-12
    Overseas campus of reporting HEI 17,525 14,870
    Distance, flexible or distributed learning 123,635 116,535
    Other arrangement including collaborative provision 103,795 96,075
    Subtotal - students registered at a UK HEI 244,955 227,480
    Overseas partner organisation 353,375 342,845
    Other arrangement 600 340
    Subtotal - students studying for an award of a UK HEI 353,975 343,190
    Total 707,350 570,665
    Level and location of study of students studying wholly overseas 2012-13 (top 20 countries) EU Non-EU
    Postgraduate research 675 1,805
    Postgraduate taught 9,385 47,100
    First degree 26,430 332,595
    Other undergraduate 1,590 7,400
    Total 76,360 494,650

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