Visa Crunch

Visa And Application Data Indicates Positive Cues For UK Higher Education

The Home Office said that there were 432,279 sponsored study visas granted in 2021, breaking the record for a calendar year and also surpassing the previous high for a 12-month period set in the year ending September 2021 (428,428).

The number of study visas granted in 2021 was 89 per cent higher than the pandemic-impacted 2020, but also 52 per cent higher than the last pre-Covid year of 2019.

In its presentation of the data, the Home Office cautioned that due to the pandemic some students who may have enrolled in the previous year deferred their course, while some others may have commenced a course in 2020 online and then applied to enter the UK to continue in 2021.

There were also 22,714 sponsored visa grants for EEA/Swiss nationals in 2021, the first year in which they were required to apply for a visa following the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The highest number of study visa grants in 2021 was for Chinese nationals (119,334), a 47 per cent increase on the previous year, but a slight decrease compared with 2019.

However, second-placed India received 98,747 grants in 2021, up by 90 per cent compared with 2020 and 164 per cent compared with 2019. Nigeria (+415 per cent) and Pakistan (+256) also recorded significant increases compared with the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Ninety per cent of the study visas issues were for study at higher education institutions, while four per cent were for independent schools, three per cent were for further education colleges and two per cent were for English language schools, the Home Office said.

As previously reported, UK higher education institutions had a record 605,130 international student enrolment in the 2020/21 academic year, according to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), surpassing the government’s International Education Strategy target a decade early.

Meanwhile, undergraduate application data from the UK higher education admissions service UCAS shows an increase from several key non-EU markets for courses commencing in September 2022.

Data from the January 26th 2022 application deadline shows that there were 111,410 international undergraduate applications, a similar figure compared with the previous cycle.

Applications from outside the EU rose by five per cent to 90,590, compared with the same period of the previous year, with increases from China (+12 per cent), India (+11), Nigeria (+47) and Canada (+17). UCAS said that applications from Singapore (+7) and Malaysia (+6) were rising again after falls in recent years.

“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, with our recent report indicating that nearly nine in 10 still view the UK as an attractive place to study. 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.”

said Clare Marchant, Chief Executive at UCAS

However, applications from students in the EU (20,820) decreased by 19 per cent compared with this period last year, and were less than half of the number of applications received by January 2020 (42,750) for the September 2020 intake – the last year in which European students could pay domestic-level fees and be eligible for UK government-backed tuition loans.

As reported by StudyTravel Magazine, UCAS recently launched the Myriad by UCAS platform for international postgraduate students and agents, and plans to launch a dedicated agent-facing portal in April.

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

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