135,000 International Students Apply to UK Unis | This Week in Admissions News

22/07/20225 minute read
135,000 International Students Apply to UK Unis | This Week in Admissions News

The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students with top university ambitions, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. This week, UCAS announced in its latest figures approximately 135,000 international students have applied to UK universities through the UCAS application portal. Check back next week to see what’s new and noteworthy in university admissions!

135,000 International Students Apply to UK Universities Through UCAS in Competitive Year

According to the latest figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), a total of 135,000 international students have applied to UK universities through UCAS. Compared to last year, this represents an increase of 3%.

“A record number of students from the UK and beyond are choosing the high-quality experience at UK universities,” Christopher Hale, interim CEO of Universities UK, commented. “Going to university continues to be a good option and there is strong employer demand for graduate skills,” he added.

Out of the 135,000 international students, 111,720 are non-EU students. 31,400 are from China, an increase of 10% from 2021. There was also an increase of 58% in Nigerian applicants and a 20% increase in applicants from India.

Clare Marchant, chief executive of UCAS, said the increase was expected: “As we recover from the COVID pandemic and see the increased opening up of international travel, this year was always going to be pivotal for the international student market.”

There was also a record rise in applications from domestic students in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the UK, reaching 44.1% — corresponding to approximately 38,300 students. In comparison with last year, the application gap between the most and least advantaged students has significantly narrowed.

“UCAS analysis shows that universities and colleges are continuing to support the progression of these students with targeted offer-making that we predict will see record numbers of disadvantaged students start university and college in the autumn,” Marchant commented.

It is expected that a record number of students will begin higher education courses in the fall due to the large number of applications via the platform, with over 683,650 applicants making a total of 3,049,000 applications to UK universities.

Even though COVID-19 has disrupted the academic journey of many students, Marchant finds it encouraging that a record number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds are actively pursuing higher education.

“Over the next few weeks, we’ll see a huge effort across the education sector to support more than 700,000 students begin the next chapter in their educational journey,” Marchant added.

Russell Group's policy director Sarah Stevens said admissions will be competitive in the coming year, but the group will focus on providing quality education while ensuring accessibility.

“Today’s figures also show that despite a highly competitive environment, the UK remains a world-class destination for international students,” Stevens said in a statement. “The strong growth in applications from India and Nigeria, prioritised in the UK’s International Education Strategy, demonstrate efforts to attract students from across the world like the graduate route are beginning to pay dividends.”

Other key findings from the UCAS data:

  • According to UCAS' Career Finder, which connects students to jobs and degree/higher apprenticeships, 2.15 million unique searches were made in the last 12 months in the portal, up by 4.13% from 2021.
  • 490 people have become the first T level (an alternative to A levels focused on vocational skills) students to apply to higher education.

Other top stories in admissions news this week:

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a paper by researchers in Hong Kong which examines the paradox wherein countries like China and Saudi Arabia, which send more students abroad than almost any other countries, are nonetheless "wary of foreign education's impact on their societies ... which may threaten national security and stability." The paper details the two countries' different approaches as they seek to "exercise greater control" over citizens studying overseas with a goal of "heading off perceived threats to political and ideological security."
  • In a press release, NASFAA states after two cycles of "concerning" FAFSA completion numbers in the US, "the class of 2022 has returned to near pre-pandemic norms with 52.1% of the senior class completing the application," indicating a forthcoming rise in enrollment numbers at US unis. NCAN, which compiled the data in question, said: "Whether the high school class of 2022 can begin to reverse the dismal trends observed over the past two years remains to be seen. Given the tight association between FAFSA completion and enrollment, it’s reasonable to expect the class of 2022’s postsecondary outcomes to rebound relative to its peers."
  • The Washington Post publishes an op-ed arguing that "affirmative action in college admissions has propped up a lack of action in grade schools and high schools" in the form of early identification and cultivation of talent, especially in academic areas and for children of color. The article postulates that if minority children received the same early encouragement and guidance as more privileged students do, "the question of diversity in higher education might simply melt away."
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