Massive rise in number of foreign students

by Emily

In the last ten years, the number of non-European students studying at UK universities has practically doubled according to a survey conducted by HE action group Universities UK. This figure takes into account both first degree and post-graduate enrolments.

The report's author Professor Geoffrey Crossick said of the findings: "The report demonstrates how the diversity of the UK higher education sector has increased over the last 10 years, giving students from a wide range of backgrounds the opportunity to study at and beyond first degree level."

This is good news for universities from a fiscal point of view, as students from outside Europe have to pay significantly higher tuition fees. The influx of foreign students is now so high that many universities are receiving more income from this stream than through government research grants. The effect is such that in 2007/08 university income rose by 10% on the previous year.

This is obviously fantastic news for universities and students (be there European or not) alike, allowing more investment in facilities, grants and student support. However, is this a safe revenue stream? As different global markets rise and fall, so does the ability of these countries to send their students abroad. For example, a significantly large number of students hail from China. Were this economy, which has so far remained robust, to falter then the knock-on effect on UK Higher Education could be highly damaging.