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Drop in international students coming to England for first time in three decades

2 April 2014

The number of students coming to English universities has reduced significantly since 2010 - the first decline in 29 years - according to a report released today.

The report, from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) revealed that the number of students from India and Pakistan on full-time postgraduate courses had halved since 2010, but that their numbers were growing in other countries.

UCU said tough domestic rhetoric on immigration and changes to student visas were doing little for the UK's image abroad, especially at a time when other countries were doing more to attract international students.

Increased tuition fees were blamed for the fall in the number of full-time EU undergraduate entrants. A growth in Chinese entrants in full-time Masters programmes, coupled with a decline in traditional UK postgraduate markets like India, Pakistan and Iran, has led to almost as many Chinese students (23%) as English students (26%) on Masters courses.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'International students make a huge contribution to academic and cultural life on campuses and in our cities. They also make a valuable contribution to our economy. As we face continued uncertainty about the future of funding for our universities, the government should be doing more to encourage foreign students.

'Ministers need to recognise that attempts to sound tough on immigration at home are also reported elsewhere and it is not surprising if students consider studying in the countries that make an effort to welcome them.'

Last updated: 10 December 2015