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International student statistics: UK higher education

These pages have been updated using the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) First Statistical Release 224 and the HESA publication Students in Higher Education 14/15. 

For initial assessment of the data see:
UKCISA news item on HESA First Stats 2014-15
Times Higher Education
PIE News (quoting UKCISA Chief Executive, Dominic Scott)

Sections

Data below was updated in 2016 from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) First Statistical Release and the publication Students in Higher Education 2014-15.

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

International (non-UK) students in UK HE in 2014-15

  • There are 436,585 students from outside the UK coming to study in the UK.
  • The number of Chinese students far exceeds any other nationality at 89,540.
  • Indian students are the next largest cohort with 18,320 although this represents a continuing drop from the previous year and the year before. 
  • University College London (now including the Institute of Education) hosted the largest number of international (EU and non-EU) students in the UK with a total of 20,745.
  • Business and administrative studies have the largest proportion of international students (38.4% of students in this subject are international) with Engineering and technology second (33.1%) and Law third (26.3%).
  • There is no significant difference in the sex of non-UK students coming to the UK with 51% female and 49% male.

International students in UK HE by domicile, level and mode,
European Union (EU) (excluding UK) and non-EU, 2014-15

Level of Study/Domicile Full-time Part-time Total
EU students (non-UK domicile) in HE    
Higher degree (research) 11,580 2,705 14,280
Higher degree (taught) 22,130 5,515 27,640
Postgraduate other 1,790 2,520 4,305
First degree 71,190 2,270 73,465
Other undergraduate 1,235 3,645 4,885
Total non-UK EU 107,925 16,655 124,575
Non-EU students in HE    
Higher degree (research) 29,565 2,850 32,415
Higher degree (taught) 108,875 10,285 119,160
Postgraduate other 3,145 3,570 6,690
First degree 135,695 3,625 139,320
Other undergraduate 6,750 7,670 14,425
Total non-EU 284,010 28,000 312,010
All non-UK domicile in HE    
Higher degree (research) 41,145 5,550 46,695
Higher degree (taught) 131,000 15,800 146,800
Postgraduate other 4,905  6,090 10,995
First degree 206,890 5,895 212,785 
Other undergraduate 7,990 11,320 19,305
Total non-UK 391,935 44,655 436,585

Source: HESA 'Students in Higher Education 2014-15' Table C (postgraduate numbers) and Table D (undergraduate numbers)
Note that 'non-EU' stats include EEA.
For definitions of categories, see HESA website


Higher Education qualifications obtained in 2014-15

Full time study Higher Degrees (research and taught) Other postgraduate First degree Other undergraduate
UK domicile 45,525 28,205 293,535 42,285
EU students (not incl UK) 20,090 1,270 9,420 1,635
non-EU 85,750 4,870 45,390 5,350
Part time study        
UK domicile 31,285 33,135 34,385 36,315
EU students (not incl UK) 2,595 880 630  730
non-EU 5,895 2,010 2,205 1,505

Source: HESA 'Students in Higher Education 2014-15' Table 17


International student numbers by UK nation and English regions 2014-15

Country Total international students % of student population who are international
England 356,820 19%
Scotland 50,015 22%
Wales 24,230 18%
Northern Ireland 5,525 10%
UK 436,585 19%

Source: HESA First Statistical Release 224 (2014-15) Table 1a and Chart 4.
Note that Total = full time, part time non-UK students (EU and non-EU)


Sex of international students 2014-15

Total non-UK students (EU and non-EU) %
Female 159,325 51
Male 152,655 49

Source: HESA 'Students in Higher Education 2014-15' Table B


Top Ten non-EU sending countries

Country 2014-15 2013-14 2012-13 
China (PRC) 89,540 87,895 83,790
India 18,320 19,750 22,385
Nigeria 17,920 18,020 17,395
Malaysia 17,060 16,635 15,015 
United States of America 16,865 16,485 16,235 
Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region) 16,215 14,725 13,065
Saudi Arabia 8,595 9,060 9,440 
Singapore 7,295 6,790 6,020 
Thailand* 6,240 6,340 6,180
Pakistan 7,295 6,665 7,185 

*Note that Thailand entered the top ten countries in 2014-15 and Canada fell to 11th place. 

Source: HESA First Statistical Release 224 (2014-15) Table 9


Top EU sending countries

Country 2014-15 2013-14 2012-13
Germany 13,675 14,060 14,520
France 11,955 11,500 11,725
Republic of Ireland 10,905 11,490 12,620
Italy 10,525 9,550 8,320
Greece 10,130 10,670 10,910
Cyprus
9,745 10,295 10,840
Spain 7,040 6,585 5,995
Romania 6,590 6,515 6,460
Bulgaria 6,255  6,355 6,060
Poland 5,245  5,200 5,280

Source: HESA First Statistical Release 224 (2014-15) Table 8


International student numbers by subject area 2014-15

Subject of study % in subject who are international
Business & administrative studies 38.4%
Engineering and technology 33.1%
Law 26.3%
Architecture, building and planning 25.4%
Mass communications & documentation 23.0%
Mathematical sciences 21.6%
Computer science 20.4%
Social studies 19.8%
Veterinary science 18.9%
Languages 17.7%
Creative arts and design 16.2%
Medicine and dentistry 16.0%
Physical sciences 15.8%
Agriculture and related subjects 12.4%
Historical and philosophical studies 10.9%
Biological sciences 10.8%
Subjects allied to medicine 7.7%
Education 6.1%
Combined 6.0%
Total 18.9%

Source: HESA 'Students in Higher Education 2014-15' Table F


Top 20 largest recruiters of international students 2014-15

Institution postgraduate students undergraduate students  Total number of international students
University College London 7,200 6,345 13,545
The University of Manchester 5,650 6,565 12,215
The University of Edinburgh 4,530 5,550 10,080
Coventry University 3,715 5,385 9,100
The University of Sheffield 4,485 3,965 8,450
Kings College, London 4,205 4,140 8,345
The University of Birmingham 5,780 2,520 8,300
University of the Arts, London 2,015 6,130 8,145
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine 4,235 3,730 7,965
The University of Warwick 3,695 3,730 7,425
The University of Oxford 5,190 2,155 7,345
The University of Glasgow 3,675 3,665 7,340
The University of Nottingham 3,075 4,170 7,245
The City University 4,205 3,000 7,205
London School of Economics and Political Science 4,995 2,055 7,050
Cardiff University 3,455 3,535 6,990
The University of Southampton 3,995 2,900 6,895
The University of Liverpool 2,040 4,825 6,865
University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne 3,315 3,295 6,865
The University of Cambridge 3,960 2,400 6,360

Source: HESA First Statistical Release 224 (2014-15) Table 3.
Note that totals include EU and non-EU students, full-time and part-time study.


Students studying wholly overseas for a UK qualification

 

Type of provision Total number of students 24-15 Total number of students 2013-14 Total number of students 2012-13
Overseas campus of reporting HEI 22,750 19,230 17,525
Distance, flexible or distributed learning 120,475 119,700 123,635
Other arrangement including collaborative provision 127,510 116,035 103,795
Subtotal - students registered at a UK HEI 270,740 254,965 244,955
Overseas partner organisation 384,585 374,430 353,375
Other arrangement 8,590 7,280 600
Subtotal - students studying for an award of a UK HEI (but not registered at a HEI) 393,175 381,710 353,975
Total 663,915 638,675 707,350

Source: HESA 'Students in Higher Education 2014-15' Table O


Level and location of study of students studying wholly overseas 2014-15 (top 10 countries)

postgraduate research postgraduate taught  first degree  other undergraduate Total 
Malaysia 445 6,195 6,8040 3,885 78,565
China 415 3,445 51,490 995 56,340 
Singapore 120 4,390 42,995 1,010 48,520
Pakistan 30 490 41,315  690 42,525
Nigeria 200 6,690 25,480 40  32,410
Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China) 270 4,400 24,790  245 29,705
Oman 35 1,735 16,210 555 18,530
Ghana 35 2,395 14,330 165 16,920
Egypt 65 1,270 15,190  45 16,570
Sri Lanka 10 4,940 10,955  635 16,545

Source: HESA 'Students in Higher Education 2014-15' Table P

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