Study in London twice as popular with foreign students than UK students

Study in London twice as popular with foreign students than UK students

Foreign students are almost twice as likely to apply to a London university or college compared to students applying from the UK, finds UCAS report.

UCAS’ 2019 International Insights report, the most detailed ever undertaken by the organisation, revealed the global appeal of UK universities.

The study found that applications from foreign students to study in UK rose by 5.2% to a record 140,955.

The report also found that STEM subjects have an above average proportion of international applicants.

For example, while 34.2% of applicants for mathematical sciences are international, only 5.2% of applicants for courses in education came from outside the UK.

London a big draw for foreign students coming to UK

Last year, while 54.1% of international applicants used one out of their five undergraduate application choices to apply for a London-based course, proportionally, only half as many (27.8%) UK prospective students applied for a London university or college.

In addition, while 72.8% of international students applied to a ‘higher tariff’ UK university, this was the case for less than half (49.2%) of UK applicants.

International applicant numbers rise to a record number of 140,955

In total, last year’s number of international applicants rose by 5.2% to a record 140,955.

The number of acceptances also increased to a new record of 76,905 (a 3.8% rise).

The report identified several countries in Africa as emerging markets for UK universities and colleges.

In particular, last year, the number of students applying from Ghana grew by 25.5% and applicants from South Africa rose by 17.1%.

Numbers of Nigerian student applications also rose by 10.8%, after falling by 40.9% between 2010 and 2018.

Other countries with a significant rise in applicant numbers in South East Asia include Saudi Arabia (10.3%), Kuwait (26.9%), and Taiwan (11.6%).

Clare Marchant, Chief Executive of UCAS, said: “Campuses and communities across the country benefit enormously from both the academic and cultural contributions of students choosing the UK to pursue their studies.

“Our most detailed insight ever into international students’ choices further proves the high regard our higher education sector is held in around the world.

“While the draw of studying in the capital is clear, our analysis of emerging markets and students’ subject preferences will be invaluable to universities across the country in planning their teaching and recruitment activities.”

Pic: Miguel Henriques

Josephine Walbank - Reporter, Global Education Times (GET News)

Josephine Walbank is a reporter for Global Education Times (GET News) with a focus on education in the UK, Asia-Pacific, and Americas, and student experience and lifestyle news.

Josephine is an experienced journalist who previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Falmouth Anchor. She is also the former Deputy Editor of Voices, the Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union’s publication, and has written for various food and lifestyle publications.

You can reach her at

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