Visa Crunch

Number Of Applications To UK Varsities Declines From East Asian Nations

According to a new British Council research, the demand for visas to study in the UK by students from East Asia remains “depressed.”

According to the British Council, which supervises UK cultural connections and educational possibilities, the UK issued fewer study visas to East Asian students in 2021 than it did in 2019. This is despite a general increase in the number of incoming overseas students in 2021, following the sector’s devastation during the pandemic’s peak. Over 40,000 more student visas will be issued by the UK in 2021 than in 2019.

The study, 5 Trends to Watch in 2022 East Asia Edition, notes that the reduction in East Asia may be due to “stricter travel restrictions” as well as “a greater readiness in the region to postpone foreign study plans until after the pandemic has passed.”

“Millions of consumers, as well as our agency members, are now turning to Japan and Singapore and we expect a long-term shift to nearby Asian countries,” said Jon Santangelo, spokesperson at BOSSA, China’s association of study abroad service agencies. “However, our data also proves that the UK has consistently outpaced the US and every other country worldwide for several years.”

Jazreel Goh, head of the British Council’s Malaysia / East Asia insights hub, is also upbeat. All indications point to ongoing demand from the major East Asian countries, which continue to be the top region for student mobility to the UK in absolute numbers, particularly China, which will represent a strategic component of the global educational business.

Although China accounted for nearly 75% of all UK study visas given in East Asia, the flow of outbound students from China to every major host country, including the UK, remained substantially below pre-pandemic levels in 2021.

Despite this, the recovery will be difficult, with problems stemming from the protracted financial impact of the crisis, geopolitical tensions, and a massive restructuring of the airline industry, which will make travel more complicated and costly. 14 of the 16 East Asian economies covered by the survey are predicted to expand faster in the coming five years than they did in the previous five.

“As income levels rise… East Asia could see demand for UK education rebound in 2022 and beyond,” the British Council predicts.

For the time being, Goh believes that UK universities should recognize that prospective students in East Asia encounter a tangle of barriers and doubts when deciding to study abroad, resulting in a flood of questions regarding everything from campus safety policy to travel and visa logistics. She recommended they monitor response times in minutes rather than hours or days, given the increased competition for overseas students.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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