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Student visa statistics

Who is an international student for visa purposes?

Immigration statistics can be very confusing as

  1. categories have changed over recent years with the introduction of "student visitor visas" for those studying for less than six months, and then the "extended student visitor visa" for those studying English language for up to 11 months, and major changes to the student visa category itself with the introduction of the Points Based System in 2009.
  2. two sets of immigration statistics are produced, one for Entry Clearance (those who obtain a visa) and another for Passengers given Leave to Enter (those actually arriving). Entry Clearance statistics can over-count because they may include students who never actually use their visa, and Passengers given Leave to Enter may double count students who enter the country more than once on the same visa.

Entry Clearance and Leave to Enter statistics

Table 1: Students given Entry Clearance to come to the UK (rounded to nearest hundred) by calendar year

Students Student visitors* Total
2005 191,600 15,800 207,400


23,200 234,300
2007 213,100 33,100 246,200
2008 232,000 42,200 274,200
2009 303,400 37,700 341,100
2010 285,500 49,200 334,700
2011 261,400 61,400 322,800

Source: Immigration Statistics April - June 2012, Before entry data tables, Home Office (August 2012)

Table 2: Students given Leave to Enter the UK

Students Student visitors* Total
2007 375,000 3,000 378,000
2008 248,000 143,000 391,000
2009 291,000 198,000 489,000
2010 296,000 240,000 536,000
2011 267,000 262,000 529,000

Source: Immigration Statistics April - June 2012, Admissions data tables, Home Office (August 2012)

* The introduction of the Student Visitor category in 2007 includes students coming to the UK for less than six months who would previously only have appeared in the Visitors statistics. The apparent rise in this category in subsequent years is therefore misleading, as comparable data for previous years cannot be disaggregated from the visitor statistics.

For a more detailed discussion of international student immigration statistics see the IPPR's publication Student migration in the UK (February 2011).

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