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Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
23rd Feb 2022

UK: Latest UCAS release shows continued growth from non-EU markets

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • Undergraduate applications for 2022 are on pace to match or exceed volumes from last year
  • We continue to see contrasting trends for non-EU and EU applicants: China and India continue to drive year-over-year growth from outside the European Union but EU volumes have fallen off sharply

The latest UK data indicates that the broad patterns for British undergraduate admissions are holding steady into 2022. A 17 February data release from UCAS reports on the admissions volumes for the key "Early Consideration Deadline" (ECD), which fell on 26 January this year. That deadline relates to undergraduate applications for admission for the coming academic year, and it is an important indicator for how overall admissions volumes will unfold. "The ECD is the largest milestone in our annual cycle," says Des Cutchey, managing director of UCAS International. "And the numbers we see there tend to be fairly reflective of how the rest of the year is going to pan out."

Some of the key numbers for this year include:

  • UCAS has received a total of 111,410 international applications so far in 2022. This is essentially the same as the volume in 2021 (111,630).
  • Within that total, however, we see two contrasting trends. The number of applicants from outside of the European Union continues to rise, and grew by 5% this year to reach a total of 90,590. In contrast, the number of EU applicants fell off by 19%. There were just under 21,000 EU applicants as of the January deadline this year, which means that only about one in five international applicants to British higher education are coming from within the European Union.

Not surprisingly, China and India continue to drive non-EU applicants numbers this year, with record numbers of students applying from both key markets. Applications from China grew by 12% this year for a total of 28,930, and the number of Indian students applying grew by 11% year-over-year to reach 8,660 as of the January deadline. Nigeria, meanwhile, recorded the greatest proportional increase with 47% growth and 2,380 applications.

“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," said UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant. “Whilst applications have been very resilient throughout the pandemic, the robust demand from China, India, and Hong Kong, as well as demand from a number of new and emerging global regions, shows the enduring appeal of our world-class universities…We are expecting, as part of the journey to a projected million applications by 2026, the number of international students to grow by two-thirds."

An integrated platform for postgraduate applicants

UCAS also announced this month the launch of a new platform for postgraduate applicants: Myriad by UCAS. Available both in-browser and as an app, Myriad is designed as a "one-stop platform" for applicants for advanced studies in the UK, and it brings together information about courses, housing, job search, and scholarships and funding.

"Students are never going to go to just one place for their research but the more information we can provide students the more impactful that experience is going to be," says Mr Cutchey. "Our research tells us that even at the point of decision making when students are deciding where to apply that those considerations play a big part."

For additional background, please see:

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