A new report has revealed that the UK’s popularity as a destination of choice for international students is waning compared to its competitors.
While the UK held onto its position as the second most popular destination in the world for international students between 2010 and 2018, it almost lost its position to rising competitors Australia and Germany according to Universities UK International.
In the 2018/19 academic year the difference between the UK and Australia stood at just 7,600 students.
Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International said that while the UK is “extremely fortunate to be such a popular destination for international students” the research shows “we need to work hard to revere our position in a range of countries.”
In the world’s top 21 sending countries for students the UK’s market share sustained heavy losses across the period, contracting -29.8 per cent in Nigeria, -14.2 per cent in India and -13.3 per cent in France.
According to a survey the top reasons prospective students are put off studying in Britain include concerns about educations costs, feeling unsafe and unwelcome and a lack of post graduation employment opportunities.
The situation has been worsened by Brexit, with data from UCAS showing that applications from EU students remained below pre-referendum levels in the following three years.
Lord Karan Bilimoria, President of the Confederation of British Industry and formerly an international student in the UK, stressed the “enormous value” of international students, who contribute £26bn to the UK both economy and help to boost the nation’s “soft power.”
If the UK is unable to maintain or increase its position as a destination of choice it will struggle to meet the government’s ambitious target of attracting 600,000 foreign students by 2030.