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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-december-2018/why-do-people-come-to-the-uk-3-to-study
Data relate to the year ending December 2018 and all comparisons are with the year ending December 2017, unless indicated otherwise.
This section contains data on:
- Tier 4 (Sponsored study) visas
- Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) by education sector
- Short-term students
The Home Office provides a more detailed commentary on an annual basis. The latest detailed annual commentary is included in ‘Immigration statistics, year ending June 2018’.
1. Immigration for study reasons
In 2018, there were 241,054 Tier 4 (Sponsored study) visas granted (including dependants), an 8% increase of 17,793 on the previous year, and the highest level since 2011.
Over the same period, sponsored applications for the Higher education (university) sector increased by 10% to 194,861, the highest level on record.
The vast majority (97%) of Tier 4 (Sponsored study) visa applications were granted.
There were notable increases in the number of Tier 4 (Sponsored study) visas granted to Chinese nationals (up 13% to 99,723) and Indian nationals (up 35% to 19,505); this is the largest number of grants to Indian students since 2011. Chinese and Indian nationals together accounted for just under half (41% and 8% respectively) of all Tier 4 visas granted.
Table 2: Top 5 nationalities granted Tier 4 (Sponsored study) visas, 2018 compared with 2017
|All other nationalities||88,284||89,439||+1,155||+1%|
In 2018, the number of sponsored Student visa applications (main applicants) rose 8% to 229,488. This was driven by increases in applications for the Higher education (university) sector, which increased by 10% to 194,861, and is now at the highest level on record. The Higher education sector accounted for 85% of all sponsored visa applications.
Figure 5: Sponsored visa applications by sector, year ending March 2011 to year ending December 2018
- ‘Higher Education Institutions’ relate to UK-based universities.
- ‘Further education’ relates to tertiary, further education or other colleges.
- Most of the fall in the Further education sector’s sponsored visa applications since the peak in mid-2011 has been accounted for by the revocation of licences issued to sponsors (see the user guide for further details).
The Higher Education Statistics Authority’s (HESA) January 2019 report showed an increase of 8% in the number of new non-EU entrants (those entering the first year of their course), which is mirrored by a 10% increase in the number of sponsored student visa applications for the Higher education sector in the closest corresponding period (year ending September 2018).
HESA also reported that, in the 2017 to 2018 academic year, 41% of new non-EU entrants were from China and noted a 42% fall in the number of Nigerian students over the last five years. They also reported that the number of students from India fell each year from 2011 to 2017 before rising in 2018. A similar trend was seen in the number of visas issued to Indian students which fell each year from 2010 to 2016 and then rose in 2017 and 2018. The trend occurring one year earlier in visa numbers may be due to students getting a visa before starting their courses.
In addition to the Tier 4 (Sponsored study) visas granted, there were 114,202 Short-term study visas granted, a 7% increase on the previous year, and the highest level on record. There are large numbers of people that do not require a visa for short-term study in the UK, most noticeably US nationals.
2. About these statistics
The statistics in this section provide an indication of the number of people who have an intention to enter the UK for study reasons.
Entry clearance visas allow an individual to enter and stay in the UK within the period for which the visa is valid. EEA nationals do not require a visa to enter the UK.
Data in this section refer to the number of Entry clearance visas granted for study reasons within the period. If an individual is granted a visa more than once in a given period, this will be counted as multiple grants in the statistics. If an individual enters the UK multiple times within the period for which a visa is valid, this will be counted as one grant in the visa statistics.
The data do not show whether, or when, an individual arrived in the UK, what they did on arrival to the UK, or how long they stayed in the UK.
Year-on-year comparisons of the number of decisions can be affected by quarterly fluctuations in the data. Such fluctuations can be examined in more detail in the quarterly data that are available in the published tables.
Tier 4 (Sponsored study) provides a route for students to study with an approved education provider. It was implemented from 31 March 2009, replacing previous entry routes for study. This category includes all Tier 4 and, prior to 31 March 2009, pre-PBS equivalent visas.
To apply for a Student visa or for an extension of stay as a student (Tier 4), individuals must use a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) from a sponsoring educational institution. Study visas applied for with a CAS are also referred to as ‘Sponsored visa applications’. Statistics relating to sponsored acceptances for study measure the number of successful sponsorship applications in the four main educational sectors – universities (higher education), further education, independent schools and English language schools.
The Short-term study visa (previously described as Student visitor) allows individuals to come to the UK for 6 months (or 11 months if they will be studying an English language course). Individuals with this visa cannot extend their stay. Admissions data shows much higher numbers of short-term student admissions from non-EEA nationals than the number of Short-term student visas granted, as many student visitor admissions are from nationalities that are not required to obtain a visa if they wish to come to the UK as a short-term student for 6 months or less (such as US nationals).
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes long-term international migration (LTIM) estimates in its ‘Migration Statistics Quarterly report’. The report includes estimates from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) on the number of people coming to the UK with the intention of staying for 12 months or more for work, study, family and other reasons. Estimates are available for EU, non-EU, and British nationals. IPS data are not directly comparable with Home Office visa data for a number of reasons. See the ONS article ‘Comparing sources of international migration statistics’ for details.
In January 2019, HESA published its latest ‘Higher Education Student Statistics UK’, for the academic year 2017 to 2018. HESA publishes data on new entrants to UK higher education providers for both EEA and non-EEA nationals.
3. Data tables
Data on student immigration can be found in the following tables:
- Sponsorship tables
- Visas tables volume 1
- Visas tables volume 2
- Visas tables volume 3
- Admissions tables
- Extensions tables
We welcome your feedback
If you have any comments, or suggestions for the development of this report, please provide feedback by emailing MigrationStatsEnquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk. Please include the words ‘PUBLICATION FEEDBACK’ in the subject of your email.
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