Chinese applicants to UK universities hit new high

There has been a surge in Chinese students applying to UK universities. What’s the cause? Is it a result of the US/China trade war, Brexit, or a combination of many factors?

The number of Chinese students applying to study at British universities has surged by 30 per cent this year, according to official data.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) said that the 19,760 undergraduate applications from Chinese students this year compared to 15,240 in 2018. It means that, for the first time, the number of Chinese applications is higher than that from students in Northern Ireland (18,520).

Reasons for the increase in Chinese students applying to study in the UK

Educationists said one reason for the leap had probably been the Brexit-induced fall in the value of sterling and the fact that Chinese students had been deterred from applying to US universities because of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore, said: “International students bring huge cultural and economic benefits to the UK. These figures show we are making good progress in our ambition to open up world-leading higher education to anyone who has the potential to benefit from it and I’m confident that we can go even further.”

There are already more Chinese at British universities than any other foreign nation. Ten years ago, the total stood at 43,530 - by 2018-19, there were 106,530, of which 60,460 were postgraduate students and 46,070 undergraduates.

Clare Marchant, UCAS chief executive, said: “The global appeal of UK higher education has never been clearer, with record demographic-beating application rates in England and Wales, and the steep rise in international applications, especially from China.”

The University of Manchester has the largest enrolment of Chinese students in Europe, with about one in eight of its 40,000 total coming from China.