International student statistics: UK higher education

All statistics listed below are from the publicly available statistics on the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA) website.  UKCISA does not gather this data.  You can view the full interactive charts on the HESA website.

Please also note that not all tables have been updated for 2017-18.  See the table headings for dates - but you can find all data on the HESA website.  You can also explore the data with UUKi's International facts and figures​ (July 2019)

Note: totals differ in the tables below due to rounding within the HESA data.

International (non-UK) students in UK HE in 2017-18

  • The total number of non-UK students studying in the UK in 2017-18 was 458,490
  • China sends significantly more students to the UK than any other nation: 106,530 students
  • Business and administrative studies remains the most popular subject for international students: 126,955 students
  • University College London hosts the largest number of international students in the UK: 17,990 students.

For graphics and commentary on this summary, see the HESA website.  


International students in UK HE by domicile, level and mode,
European Union (EU) (excluding UK) and non-EU, 2017-18

Level of Study/Domicile Full-time Part-time Total
EU students (non-UK domicile) in HE    
Postgraduate (research) 12,215 2,360 14,575
Postgraduate (taught) 24,070 7,135 31,205
First degree 90,460 1,785 92,245
Other undergraduate 1,650 3,040 4,695
Total non-UK EU 128,395 14,320 142,715
Non-EU students in HE    
Postgraduate (research) 29,230 2,550 31,780
Postgraduate (taught) 117,555 10,815 128,365
First degree 149,800 2,905 152,710
Other undergraduate 6,490 6,325 12,810
Total non-EU 303,075 22,595 325,665
All non-UK domicile in HE    
Postgraduate (research) 41,445 4,910 46,350
Postgraduate (taught) 141,625 17,945 159,570
First degree 240,260 4,695 244,955
Other undergraduate 8,140 9,365 17,505
Total non-UK 431,470 36,915 468,385

Source: HESA 'HE student enrolments (including on AP designated courses) by domicile and level of study 2017/18
Note that 'non-EU' stats include EEA.
For definitions of categories, see HESA website


Higher Education qualifications obtained in 2016-17

Full time study Doctorate(research)

Other Postgraduate 
(research) 

Masters
 (taught) 
Other postgraduate  PGCE First degree Foundation degree  HNC/HND  Other undergraduate
UK domicile 9,620 2,100 37,545 9,340 18,070 313,915 8,240 3,280 26,600
EU (not UK) 2,985 490 16,645 705 420 20,850 115 60 1,515
non-EU 7,195 1,145 79,835 4,305 165 47,855 115 95 4,825
Part time study

 

       
UK domicile 2,930 685 28,085 33,290 785  30,330 5,040 2,810 20,565
EU (not UK) 460 50 1,900 930 5 480 45 10 355
non-EU 450 30 4,140 1,725 5 910 15 40 785
All students (part time and full time)            
UK domicile 2,930 2,785 65,630 42,630 18,855 344,245 13,280 6,090 47,165
EU (not UK) 3,445 540 18,545 1,635 425 21,330 160 70 1870
non-EU 7,645 1,175 83,975 6,030 170 48,765 130 135 5,610

 Data from HESA HE qualifications obtained by level of qualification 2012/13 - 2016/17

For definitions of categories, see HESA website


International student numbers by UK nation 2017-18

Country Total EU students (not incl UK) Total non-EU students Total international students
England 108,335 268,805 377,140
Scotland 21,605 32,630 54,235
Wales 6,640 14,710 21,350
Northern Ireland 2,565 3,200 3,465
UK 139,150 319,340 458,490

Source: HESA Table 11 HE student enrolments by domicile and region of HE provider 2017/18
Note that Total = full time and part time students studying at all levels


Top Ten non-EU sending countries

Country 2017-18  2016-17  2015-16 2014-15 2013-14
China (PRC) 106,530  95,090 91,215 89,540 87,895
India
19,750
 16,550 16,745
18,320
19,750
United States of America 18,885  17,580 17,115 16,865 16,485
Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region) 16,350  16,680 16,745 16,215 14,725
Malaysia
14,970
 16,370 17,405
17,060
16,635
Nigeria
10,540
12,665  16,100
17,920
18,020
Saudi Arabia
7,950
 8,065 8,570
8,595
9,060
Singapore
7,020
 7,300 7,540
7,295
6,790
Thailand
6,270 
 6,175 6,095
6,240
6,340
 Canada  6,180  5,915  5,980  6,075  6,350

Source: HESA Figure 11 - Top ten non-European Union countries of domicile in 2017/18 for HE student enrolments 2013/14 and 2017/18


Top EU sending countries

Country 2017-18  2016-17  2015-16 2014-5 2013-14
Italy 13,985 13,455 12,135 10,525 9,550
France 13,660 13,560 12,525 11,955 11,500
Germany
13,545 13,735 13,425
13,675
14,060
Greece 10,135  10,045 9,790 10,130 10,670
Spain
9,630
 8,820 7,840
7,040 6,585
 Republic of Ireland  9,600 10,070 10,245 10,905 11,490
Cyprus
9,360  9,145 9,330 9,745 10,295
Romania 8,655  8,110 7,200 6,590 6,515
Poland 7,545 6,585 5,655 5,245  5,200
Bulgaria 6,040 6,585 6,195 6,255  6,355

Source: HESA Figure 10 - Top ten European-Union countries of domicile (excluding the UK) in 2017/18 for HE student enrolments


International student numbers by subject area 2017-18

Subject of study Number of international students
Business & administrative studies 126,955
Engineering and technology 52,635
Social studies 42,785
Creative arts and design 32,455
Biological Sciences 26,995
Law 23,185
Computer Science 22,100
Subjects allied to medicine 21,720
Languages 19,280
Physical Sciences 16,170
Architecture, building and planning 13,155
Mass communications and documentation
12,500
Education 10,855
Medicine and Dentistry 10,740
Historical and philosophical studies
10,280
Mathematical Sciences 9,970
Combined 2,955
Agriculture and related subjects 2,310
Veterinary Science 1,455

Source: HESA HE student enrolments by subject of study and domicile 2017/18


Top 20 largest recruiters of international students 2017-18

Institution postgraduate research students postgraduate taught students  undergraduate students (1st degree and 'other UG') Total number of international students
University College London 2,240  6,595 9,155 17,990
The University of Manchester 1,880 4,150 7,725 13,750
The University of Edinburgh 1,850  3,975 6,195 12,025
Coventry University 235  3,090 7,955 11,285
Kings College London 940  4,175 6,060 11,175
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine 2,105  2,925  4,535 9,560
University of the Arts, London 55 2,325  6,790 9,175
The University of Warwick 795  3,670 4,525 8,990
The University of Sheffield 1,265  3,755
3,950
8,965
The University of Glasgow
1,000   3,640 4,090
8,815
The University of Birmingham
1,110
3,590  3,510  8,210
The University of Oxford 2,495  3,280 2,435 8,210
The University of Leeds
1,010
 3,685 3,395
8,085
Cardiff University
690
 2,990
4,290
7,975
The University of Liverpool
865
 1,610 5,485
7,960
London School of Economics and Political Science 360  5,065 2,460

7,885

The University of Nottingham 1,295
2,275
4,030
7,600
City, University of London 175  4,090 3,110 7,375
The University of Southampton 980  3,235 2,975 7,190
The University of Cambridge 2,820  1,425 2,805 7,050

Source: Figure 6 HESA Student Enrolments by HE provider and domicile 2017/18
Note that totals include EU and non-EU students, full-time and part-time, and the total figures may slightly vary due to how HESA round numbers.


Top 10 countries hosting students studying wholly overseas for a UK qualification 2017-18

Country Total number of students
China 72,485
Malaysia 72,485
Singapore  44,805
Pakistan  40,210
Nigeria 29,865
Sri Lanka 27,450
Hong Kong 25,675
Oman 20,645
Egypt 20,480
United Arab Emirates 18,120

Source: HESA Chart 5 Transnational students studying wholly overseas for a UK higher education qualification 2017/18


HE student enrolments studying wholly overseas in EU and outside EU 2017/18

 

studying in the EU studying outside the EU  total students studying outside UK for UK degree
Overseas campus of reporting HE provider 875 27,480 26,490
Distance, flexible or distributed learning    24,585 93,625 118,210
Other arrangement including collaborative provision    13,485 134,815 148,300
Total students registered at a UK HE provider    38,945 255,925 294,870 
Overseas partner organisation    41,640 350,345 391,985
Other arrangement 395 6,445 6,840
Total students studying for an award of a UK HE provider    42,035 356,790 398,825 
Total 80,980 612,715 693,695

Source: HESA Figure 12 - HE student enrolments studying wholly overseas by location of provision 2013/14 to 2017/18


13,985 
13,985 
13,985 
10,905
10,905

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