Number of foreign students in decline – but only one in four postgrads are from the UK

Foreign students become the majority on postgraduate courses in the UK…

  • 74% of postgraduate students come from outside the UK
  • 23% of masters students in England are from China
  • 26% of masters students in England are from the UK
  • Stats actually show a decline in foreign students

Nearly three-quarters of masters students come from outside the UK.

The data from the Higher Education Funding Council shows that there are almost as many Chinese nationals as Brits studying in postgraduate courses throughout the UK.


While the number of postgraduate Chinese students has risen by 9% this year, the overall proportion of overseas students has actually dropped for the first time in 30 years.

The total number of foreign students has dropped from 311,800 to 301,205.


The vast numbers of overseas students has raised a classic debate over immigration. Some observers feel that more British students should fill the places at British universities.

Sally Hunt, the general secretary of the University and College Union, 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.”


The decline has been blamed on a number of factors, including a rise in tuition fees. Sources state that the rise in tuition fees is directly related to the fact that EU students have dropped by a quarter.

Tighter visa restrictions on students from outside the EU and international students working in the UK after graduation have been blamed for a fall of 25% in Indian and Pakistani students.


Conservative MPs had planned to curb the numbers of international students. However university officials have banded together to warn the coalition that a decline in foreign students would have a serious negative impact on university finances.

The NUS has stated that the government’s hostile attitude towards immigration is to blame. Daniel Stevens, an NUS officer, said: “Many international students feel unwelcome in the UK as a result of the government’s hostile and overzealous policies.”