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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-march-2019/why-do-people-come-to-the-uk-3-to-study
Data relate to the year ending March 2019 and all comparisons are with the year ending March 2018, unless indicated otherwise. A more detailed annual summary can be found in ‘Immigration statistics, year ending June 2018’.
This section contains data on:
- Sponsored study (Tier 4) visas
- Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) by education sector
- Short-term students
1. Immigration for study reasons
In the year ending March 2019, there were 243,937 Sponsored study (Tier 4) visas granted (including dependants), a 9% increase or 20,363 more than the previous year, and the highest level since 2011.
Over the same period, Sponsored study visa applications for the Higher education (university) sector increased by 10% to 196,350, the highest level on record, accounting for 85% of all Sponsored study visa applications.
The vast majority (97%) of Tier 4 visa applications were granted.
There were continuing and notable increases in the number of Tier 4 visas granted to Chinese nationals (up 13% to 100,057) and Indian nationals (up 40% to 21,165); this is the largest number of grants to Indian students since the year ending March 2012. Chinese and Indian nationals together accounted for half of all non-European Economic Area (EEA) Tier 4 visas granted (41% and 9% respectively).
Table 3: Top 5 nationalities granted Sponsored study (Tier 4) visas, year ending March 2019 compared with March 2018
|Nationality||Year ending March 2018||Year ending March 2019||Change||Percentage change|
|All other nationalities||87,922||89,764||+1,842||+2%|
In August 2018, the Home Office published their ‘Third report on statistics being collected under the exit checks programme’, which showed that the vast majority (over 97%) of those with study visas expiring in the year ending March 2018 had a known in-time departure from the UK before their visa had expired.
Figure 5: Sponsored study visa applications by sector, year ending March 2011 to March 2019
- ‘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 8% increase 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).
In addition to the number of Tier 4 visas granted, there were 114,845 Short-term study visas granted, a 6% 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.
In August 2017, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published a report called ‘What’s happening with international student migration?’, which provided an update on ONS’s progress towards developing a better understanding of student migration to and from the UK, using a combination of its already established survey methods, and the Home Office’s Exit Checks data.
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 was granted a visa more than once in a given period, this has been counted as multiple grants in the statistics. If an individual entered the UK multiple times within the period for which a visa was valid, this has been 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 of Short-term student visas granted. This is due to many student visitor admissions being 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).
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 several 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.
See section 7 of the ‘About this release’ section for more details.