Australia to Replace UK as Second Most Popular Destination for Foreign Students

There has been little growth in the number of international students entering the United Kingdom since 2012, according to a report by UCL’s Centre for Global Higher Education.


Australia may soon replace the United Kingdom as the second most popular destination in the world for international students, according to a recent report from the University College London. There has been little growth in the number of international students entering the United Kingdom since 2012, UCL’s Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE) said in a report released on July 19.

In terms of total international student numbers in tertiary education, Australia may have surpassed the United Kingdom in 2018, and if not, will almost certainly do so in 2019, pushing the UK to the third spot, according to the report authored by Prof. Simon Marginson, Director of CGHE and professor of International Higher Education at the UCL Institute of Education.

While the number of incoming international students in the United Kingdom has grown slowly, Australia has experienced a surge over the last few years. In 2015, the UK received over 130,000 more overseas students than Australia. However, Australia has maintained annual growth rate of 12-14 percent in the number of overseas students, which may have propelled it to overtake the United Kingdom.

Britain retained its second place at world level in 2015, after the United States, the report said, citing the UNESCO Institute of Statistics data on incoming international students. The rate of growth in 2011-15 was more rapid in the United States than the United Kingdom due to the Obama administration’s open-door policy, the report said. The number of students entering America increased by 198,000, marking a rise of 27.9 percent, during 2011- 15, while the corresponding numbers for the United Kingdom rose by 11,000, an increase of 2.6 percent.

The number of international students entering the United States has fallen since Donald Trump became the country’s president. Between 2015-16 and 2016-17, total international students in America increased by 3.4 percent, as compared to successive increases in the previous three years of 8.1, 10 and 7.4 percent.

“UK higher education is still highly valued internationally, but the government has held down the growth of international student numbers for five years, by limiting new student numbers and post-study work visas,” Prof Marginson said in a statement. “Meanwhile, competitor nations are strongly promoting their international education.”

The position of the United Kingdom depends heavily on student enrollment from the European Union, making it the most attractive destination for European students. This number is likely to fall sharply after Brexit, since students will have to pay full international student fee instead of UK fee.

Also, Canada is fast catching up too, benefiting from the slowdown in international student arrivals in the United States. Though it remains behind the United Kingdom, its international student intake is increasing at a faster rate, which may push it to pass the United Kingdom, the report says.

The number of Indian students arriving in the United Kingdom has fallen since the post-study work visa was discontinued in 2012. The number dropped by 60 percent from its peak of 23,970 in 2010-2011 to 9,720 in 2016-2017, the Times of India reported.

On the other hand, the number of Indian students going to Australia increased to a seven-year-high in 2017, the Australian High Commission in New Delhi said earlier this year. In November 2017, more than 68,000 Indian students were studying in Australia, an increase of 14.65 percent from the corresponding figure of 60,013 last year. In 2016, there was a 12 per cent increase from 2015, according to data from the high commission.

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