UK universities are on course to recruit record numbers of international students during the global pandemic, defying predictions of financial disaster, the latest admissions figures reveal.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) said UK universities enjoyed a 9% increase in the number of undergraduate students from outside the UK and the EU starting their studies this autumn, rising to a new record total of 44,300.
The increase marks a remarkable turnaround from earlier this year, when vice-chancellors feared there would be a collapse in international student numbers and warned that a sector-wide financial crisis was likely to follow.
Universities redoubled their efforts to recruit students from overseas, and may have been helped by negative sentiment towards the US, where the virus remains unchecked in parts of the country, and while potential rivals in New Zealand and Australia remain closed to international students.
Ucas’s figures usually include fewer than half of the more than 100,000 international undergraduates coming to the UK, with the remainder and postgraduates applying directly to individual universities rather than through the admissions service.