Research and analysis

Value of tier 4 international students to further education colleges and the UK economy: evaluation

Assesses changes to Tier 4 (the student route) of the immigration system on FE colleges’ ability to recruit international students.



In 2012 the UK Border Agency changed the rules for students relating to Tier 4 of its points based system for immigration. The Tier 4 category is for adult students who want to come to or remain in the UK for their education after the age of 16. This change altered the conditions for recruitment of international ie non-European Union students by further education (FE) colleges.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills commissioned a quantitative survey and qualitative research with UK colleges. The research collected data measuring the direct financial impact that Tier 4 students have on colleges, and also their wider social and economic benefits. It also looked at the effects of the 2012 changes to Tier 4.

This research report explores:

  • how many Tier 4 students are in UK FE colleges
  • how much tuition fee income colleges received from Tier 4 students
  • the benefits of Tier 4 students in FE, and the effects of international students on colleges and their local communities
Published 5 April 2013