Whilst the number of students from non-EU countries in the UK increased in the 2021/22 academic year, the number of students from European Union countries has more than halved, data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) have shown.
According to the report published by the agency, non-EU first-year enrolments at UK universities increased by 32 per cent, whereas the number of EU students in their first year fell by 53 per cent from 2020/21 to 2021/22.
The same said that the decline aligns with the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the changes in the international fee policy from August 2021, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“First year EU domiciled enrolments dropped by 53% from 2020/21 to 2021/22. This decrease aligns with the UK’s exit from the EU and a change in international fee policy from 1 August 2021,” HESA points out.
Before the UK officially left the EU, home fees were about £9,000 for students, and the latter received student finance. After Brexit, this amount went up to £38,000.
On the other hand, HESA said the 32 per cent increase in non-EU first-year enrolments could especially be attributed to the UK post-study work visa, known as the Graduate Immigration Route, which gives permission to international students to remain in the UK for at least two years in order to find employment in the country.
Recently, British Home Secretary Suella Braverman proposed to reform the Graduate Visa route and reduce the amount of time overseas students are permitted to stay in the UK without getting a job. The Department of Education (DoE) has expressed displeasure over this proposal, saying that such a move will harm the attractiveness of the UK as a study-abroad destination.
Overall, the number of students from EU countries decreased by 21 per cent, from 152,905 in 2020/21 to 120,140 in 2021/22. According to HESA, within the EU, more students from France attended UK education institutions than any other EU country, a total of 11,870.
However, from the 2017/18 academic year to 2021/22, there was an observable decline in first-year enrollment of students from ten EU countries, except Ireland, which has overtaken France as the top source of EU students in the United Kingdom.
UK providers have recorded sharp declines in students from Italy, France, and Germany between 2017/18 and 2021/22. Over the period, the number of Italian students in the UK dropped from 14,585 to 11,320, while French students dropped from 14,090 to 11,870.
HESA shows the largest decrease was reported in students from Germany, from 13,875 in 2017/18 to 9,915 students in the 2021/22 school year.
The United Kingdom was home to nearly 680,000 international students in 2021/22. Last year, the country hit its 600,000 international student target for 2030, hosting 605,130 international students in the 2020/21 academic year, a decade early.
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