For a variety of reasons, international students pick the United Kingdom as a study destination, including its educational status, diversity, and job prospects. The United Kingdom is a diverse country with a high number of overseas students. The UK is a unique country, with many families hailing from all over the world. As a result, the United Kingdom has a unique combination of cultures, foods, and interests. In fact, the United Kingdom is the world’s second most popular destination for international students in UK.

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International students’ trend over the years

In non-EU countries, the number of new international HE students increased by 3.6 per cent, while in EU countries, it increased by 4.0 per cent. In terms of total enrolments, the number of enrolled non-EU international students climbed by 10.6% in 2019/20, while EU students increased by 3.5%. The disparity between visa issuances and student enrolments indicates that for at least the first half of the academic year, a significant proportion of students were studying in the UK HE programs online.

The UK’s trends are superior to those in the United States. According to the US Institute of International Education (IIE), new international student enrolments fell by 46% in 2020/21 compared to the previous academic year, resulting in a 17% drop in total enrolments (excluding participants in the OPT post-study work program). Because the US data only applies to students who are physically studying in the US, it is not directly comparable to the HESA student record for this year.

The number of international students in the UK has increased significantly in comparison to the previous year (2019/2020). An increase of 8.71%, to be precise. The total number of students enrolled in higher education institutions in the United Kingdom is now 2,751,865. In comparison to the total number of students in the 2019/2020 academic year, this represents an increase of 8.7%. (2,532,385). As of 2018/2019, there are 2,383,970 students registered in higher education institutions, including overseas students as well as students from the United Kingdom. This is a 2% increase over 2017/18.

Enrolment data, like visa numbers from a year ago, reveals wildly divergent trends for different countries. When looking at the top ten non-EU countries in terms of new students, some in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa showed very strong growth – the number of new Indian students increased by 27%, the number of new Pakistani students increased by 81%, and the number of new Nigerian students increased by 89 per cent. This table indicates that a significant proportion of students from other countries studied for a UK degree:

Non-EU countriesFirst year HE students            (HESA)         2019/20First year HE students            (HESA)           2020/21Year of the year       change
Hong Kong7,0007,120+1.7%
Saudi Arabia4,1804,245+1.6%

Source: HESA

While the overall results for total enrolments are encouraging, with online enrolments compensating for a drop in onshore mobility, a closer examination of the disparities between nations reveals that the headline figures do not tell the entire story. Strong rises in some nations as a result of modifications to the United Kingdom’s post-study immigration policy cover large drops in other parts of the world where the epidemic was a bigger worry.

The UK’s comparatively excellent result was undoubtedly aided by the fact that it remained accessible to overseas students while its major competitors were either partially or completely closed.

  • Thousands of Bangladeshi and international students choose to study in the UK each year because of the country’s strong educational standards, affordable courses, and better career opportunities.
  • The process of obtaining a UK student visa is not straightforward because it involves several steps, including choosing a desirable degree at the proper university, completing the admissions process, and finding a suitable living space. A minor misstep can jeopardize a student’s ability to study in the United Kingdom indefinitely. AHZ Associates may be able to aid the students in attaining a long-held dream.
  • AHZ associates work as UK university representatives, and they assist international students in finding the correct university and study track. They have assisted thousands of Bangladeshi and other international students in gaining acceptance to prestigious colleges in the United Kingdom.
  • The office procedure is simple to follow and matches the students with top universities in the United Kingdom that meet their needs. In short, AHZ Associates provides a complete solution for Bangladeshi and international students seeking to study in the United Kingdom.
  • In fact, over the last ten years or so, Bangladesh has seen massive growth in enrolment. Since 2000, total tertiary enrolment has nearly tripled, surpassing two million students in 2012.
  • Despite this growth, overall participation rates are still low, with only 13.23% of college-age students enrolled in higher education in 2012, compared to 24.80 per cent in India and 26.70 per cent in China for the same year.

Currently enrolled students in the UK

  • In 2020/21, there were just over 605,000 international students enrolled in UK universities, an increase of about 30% over 2017/18 levels.
  • 605,130 international students enrolled in the 2020/21 academic year, according to the most recent data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). This represents a 9% increase over the previous year, and it continues a five-year pattern of steady growth in UK higher education.
  • In 2020/21, non-EU students made up 452,225 of the international students in the UK, while EU students made up 152,905. The overall number of students enrolled in higher education in the country was 2,751,865 in 2020/21. 
  • International students increased by 48,505 in 2019/20, an increase of 8.7% over 2019/20 forecasts when non-UK students totalled 556,625.
  • For the first time in 2020/21, first-year students from India climbed by 27%, while those from China declined by 5%. While the number of first-year students from the United Kingdom climbed by 13%, the number of first-year students from other countries increased by 4%.
  • The number of EU-domiciled first-year first-degree students has increased by 8%, which is somewhat less than the overall increase in first-year students; EU-domiciled postgraduate student enrolments are also increasing, albeit at a slower pace.
  • In 2020/21, there were 212,515 non-EU postgraduate students, with 34,015 non-EU postgraduate research students.
  • With 152,905 students, the European Union has the largest number of international students in the UK.
  • Australia has the smallest number of international students in the UK (2,635).
  • In the United Kingdom, there are now 152,905 international students from the European Union.
  • There are 19,440 international students engaged in higher education studies from other European countries.  
  • There are now 43,340 international students from Africa studying in the United States.
  • In the United Kingdom, there are 315,475 international students from Asia.
  • In total, Australia has sent 2,635 international students to the United Kingdom.
  • In the United Kingdom, 35,805 international students from the Middle East are enrolled.
  • There are 30,750 international students from North America in total.
  • At the university, there are 4,780 international students from South America.

The UK has established a new record for the number of study visas issued to international students and their families, according to the Home Office. In the fiscal year ending September 2021 (September Intake), UK immigration officials issued a total of 428,428 study visas, which equates to:

International student

143 percent greater than the year ending September 2020; 55% higher than the year ending September 2019; and 29% higher than the previous high of 307,744 established in June 2010 more than a decade ago.

First year enrollment-

In 2020-21, the number of international students (EU and non-EU) enrolling for their first year of a bachelor’s degree declined by 0.7 percent, from 130,055 to 129,145. Non-EU first-year undergraduates decreased by 3.4 percent in 2019-20, after growing by 20.5 percent the previous year. In comparison, EU first-year undergraduates increased by 6.0 percent in 2020-21, after dropping by 0.1 percent the previous year.

From 2019-20 to 2020-21, the number of first-year foreign postgraduates increased by 6.7 percent to 202,410 students (down from 19.5 percent the previous year). This revealed a 7.5 percent increase in first-year non-EU postgraduate students, compared to first-year undergraduate students. In their first year, the number of EU postgraduate students climbed by 1.2 percent.

Postgraduate taught and postgraduate research, total enrollment-

In 2020-21, 290,295 postgraduate students were enrolled (up 15.7 percent on 2019-20). When they split down this population by PGT and PGR courses, they can observe that non-EU PGT students were the driving force behind this increase.  Between 2019-20 and 2020-21, the non-EU PGT student population (212,515) increased by 17.7%, whereas non-EU PGR students (34,015) and EU PGT students (31,045) increased by only 4.7 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. For the same period, the number of EU PGR students (12,720) fell by 2.9 percent.

Source: HESA. Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2020/21 – Where students come from and go to study.

Why UK is the best place to pursue higher education?

  • As an international student, you are not alone; students from all over the world pick the United Kingdom as their study location. You’ll encounter folks from many countries and cultures.
  • In the United Kingdom, you can find a course in almost every subject. So go ahead and study what you want.
  • In the United Kingdom, you are free to practice your faith.
  • International student societies exist at UK universities, where your concerns are handled.
  • University admission in the United Kingdom is generally straightforward. Once you’ve been accepted, your university will provide you with all of the details you’ll need to travel and settle in as a student in the UK.
  • In the United Kingdom, you can obtain a degree in less time than in other countries.
  • Universities in the United Kingdom are known for their academic excellence.
  • Student visas in the United Kingdom are easier to get than in other nations.

The United Kingdom has a multi-cultural atmosphere that is hard to find in other countries. Meet people from all around the world and immerse yourself in a rich cultural environment. Art galleries, markets, and bars are all worth visiting. You’ll never be bored in this place! International students may have difficulty deciding why they should pursue higher education in the United Kingdom. They will learn from this article that the United Kingdom has been welcoming overseas students for years and that the country knows how to treat them and make them feel at ease.

The top countries sending international students

According to statistics, there are 605,130 international students in the UK in 2020/2021.

Currently enrolled non-EU students

As of 2020/21, a total of 452,225 students from countries outside of the European Union are studying in the United Kingdom.

                         Country name                         Number of students
                       China                               143,820        
                       India                               84,555                                                           
                         Nigeria                                21,305
                        USA                                19,220
                         Hong Kong                                16,655
                         Pakistan                                12,975
                         Malaysia                                11,510
                         Saudi Arabia                                 8,825
                         Bangladesh                                 6,665
                         Singapore                                 6,580

Total non-EU international students in the UK – 452,225.

  • non-EU students in the UK, with 143,820 students now pursuing higher education in the UK.
  • UK higher education institutions, the United States ranks fourth.
  • students enrolled at UK universities.

Currently enrolled EU countries

A total of 152,905 students from European Union countries, except the UK, are enrolled in UK higher education institutions in 2020/21.

                          Country name                         Number of students
                               Italy                               14,605
                             France                               14,090
                            Romania                               12,860
                              Spain                               12,290
                            Germany                               12,250
                             Poland                               10,755
                             Ireland                               9,740
                            Greece                               9,555
                            Portugal                               8,470
                            Cyprus                               8,335

                                  Total 152,905 students from European Union countries

  • The majority of international students in the UK come from EU nations, with 14,605 students now residing in the UK.
  • France is second on the list, with 14,090 students presently studying in the UK.
  • Romania comes in third place after France as the EU country with the most students in the UK, with a total of 12,860 pupils.
  • With a total of 12,290 students, Spain is the fourth EU country with the most students in the UK.
  • Germany comes closely behind Spain, with a total of 12,250 students studying in the UK.
  • Poland, with 10,755 students, Ireland with 9,740 students, Greece with 9,555 students, Portugal with 8,470 students, and Cyprus with 8,335 students are the other five EU nations (in the top 10) sending the most students to study in the UK.

Total international student

  • Total international students- 605,130 in the year 2020/21
  • Total international students 556,625 in the year 2019/20

Source– Higher Education Statistics Agency

Foreign and home enrollment in the United Kingdom

Enrollment of international and home students from 2016/17 through 2020/21-

Northern Ireland63,20063,11063,70562,69065,545
Other UK4,2504,4854,5004,4504,495
Total UK1,925,7601,945,5601,960,3201,975,3802,146,475
Total non-UK450,835469,160496,110556,625605,130
Not known37530115385255

Source: Foreign enrolment in UK higher education, 2016/17–2020/21. Source: HESA

Top EU, non-EU Countries and Statistics of the Last 3 years 2019, 2020,2021

This graph will show the top EU and non-EU countries, as well as statistics for the last three years (2019, 2020, and 2021). –

Statistics on international students in uk-1
Statistics on international students in uk 6

EU countries-

  • 152,905 students from EU countries (2020-21)
  • 147,800 students from EU countries (2019-20)
  • 143,025 students from EU countries (2018/19)

Non-Eu students-

  • 452,225 students from non-EU (2020-21)
  • 408,825 students from non-EU (2019-20)
  • 342,620 students from non-EU (2018/19)

International students studying in the UK statistics over the year:

  • 2018-19 = 496,11 students
  • 2019-20 = 556,625 students
  • 2020-21 = 605,130 students

Source– Higher Education Statistics Agency

Increasing rate: 8.71 – (2020-21 year), 2019-20 = 8.7%

The Impact of COVID-19

The World Health Organization proclaimed the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, a little over halfway through the 2019/20 academic year.  International student numbers reached record highs during the 2019/20 academic year, according to the latest statistics from the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), which includes the first five months of the COVID-19 epidemic.

There is evidence that administrative delays due to the pandemic caused a considerable number of qualifications issued in 2019/20 to go unreported by a few providers. The impact of under-reporting is thought to account for some of the 3% drops in the number of qualifications earned in 2019/20 compared to 2018/19, with the impact being most obvious among part-time degrees. Qualifications that were not recorded during the 2019/20 academic year have been carried over to the following year.

Source: Higher Education Student Statistics: the UK, 2020/21, student bulletin.

Future Growth

An updated UK international education strategy, released in 2021, reaffirmed the country’s aim to host 600,000 overseas students by 2030. HESA reported that, in addition to the increase in first-year domestic students, the number of taught postgraduate degree candidates increased for both domestic and international students in the UK.

The following are the 2030 objectives:

  1. To virtually double the value of education exports to £35 billion by 2030, which will necessitate a 4% annual growth rate.
  2. To expand the number of overseas students enrolled in British higher education to 600,000, a significant increase from the current 460,000.
  3. The university sector applauds the government’s commitment to extending the time non-UK students can work in the country after graduation, as it has long asked the government to modify its restrictive restrictions in this area.
  4.  The university community hoped that the employment leave of abroad graduates would be extended to two years.

The International Education Strategy recognizes the importance of job difficulties in international students’ decision-making about where they will study in general, in addition to expanding post-study career choices. Welcoming message for the students-

“The UK Government will work with UUKi and sector to identify and share good practice in how universities effectively support international students into employment and further study, both here in the UK and when they return to their home nation. We will also work with the sector to enhance the evidence base on international graduate outcomes and to monitor the UK’s comparative position with respect to international student recruitment and the international student experience.”-

International Education Strategy

The overall purpose of the strategy paper is to make the UK more inviting to overseas students in all ways.

Top Universities by a numerical value

The following are some of the universities with the most international students:

University NameEU-StudentsNon-EU studentsTotal non-UKMale studentsFemale studentsOthers
University College London     5,41017,94523,36018,55527,12035
The University of Manchester3,16014,46517,62519,55525,0750
The University of Edinburgh3,74011,85515,59014,440         23,260130
King’s College London4,64510,90515,55013,33024,365750
Coventry University3,8009,96013,76019,97519,11550
The University of Glasgow    3,09510,15013,24514,69522,145305
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine3,3007,96511,26512,3159,0505
The University of Sheffield1,4659,80011,26014,25016,33025
University of the Arts, London2,9558,28011,2305,14015,90555
The University of Leeds1,4858,97010,45515,17521,62045
Anglia Ruskin University2,4103,9406,35012,150         20,01020
Bangor University4551,3901,8453,7255,9800
University of Bedfordshire2,7054,1056,8107,46510,5105
The University of Cambridge2,4604,8107,27011,21510,805130
Cardiff University1,235 6,4957,72513,65019,79070
Cranfield University670   1,4952,1603,5901,4655
De Montfort University2,0654,1056,17012,150         15,35530
The University of Dundee1,0502,0103,0555,75510,46010
University of Hertfordshire1,0358,6909,72514,125 15,9750
The University of Lancaster1,6403,8355,4758,3809,06525
London South Bank University725   1,9602,6858,07010,46010
Middlesex University1,8953,3255,2208,395 11,7650
Newcastle University1,3605,2556,61513,110         14,62045
The University of Oxford2,7156,3159,03013,320         13,81020
Roehampton University5051,4952,0004,6507,75525
  • The number of EU undergraduates at Coventry University is the highest in the country (3,425).
  • The University of Cambridge, on the other hand, has the biggest number of EU postgraduate students (1,385).
  • The Open University has the greatest number of English students (110,475), followed by students from Scotland (21,615) and Wales (14,290).
  • In England, there are 501,270 non-UK students enrolled in higher education.
  • With 23,360 students, University College London is the first university in England with the biggest number of non-UK students. With 17,625 students, the University of Manchester is in second place.

Popular Subjects

  • Business and Management are the most popular subject among international students in the UK (177,715).
  • Engineering and Technology is the second most popular study subject among international students in the United Kingdom (with a total of 63,375 students).
  • By the number of overseas students enrolled in such disciplines, Social Sciences and Computing are ranked third and fourth, respectively.
  • Currently, 705 international students from the EU are pursuing an MBA in the United Kingdom.
  • In the United Kingdom, there are 16,405 non-EU students enrolled in MBA programs.

Popular subjects with the most overseas students are listed below:

Subject name  Non-EU students      EU studentsTotal non-UK students
Business and Management 145,610        32,105177,715
Engineering and Technology     51,270        12,10563,375
Social Sciences      36,820        15,11051,930
Computing      35,805        10,83046,635
Design, and Creative and Performing Arts      25,155         16,04041,195
Medicine      26,110         9,62535,735
Law      20,885         6,71035,735
Language and Area Studies      10,905         5,82535,735
Biological and Sport Sciences       9,260        7,36016,620

The United Kingdom is one of the world’s oldest countries, with one of the world’s most renowned education systems, which is highly sought after by many sectors all over the world. Students can choose the specific discipline that they wish to study and gain knowledge, insight, and experience throughout the duration of their degree in their respective universities. In the United Kingdom, graduation courses are generally classified as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, where students can choose the specific discipline that they wish to study and gain knowledge, insight, and experience throughout the duration of their degree.

Number of the Graduate Students

This year, the total number of international students in the UK is 605,130.

            YearUndergraduate enrollmentPostgraduate enrollmentTotal international students
  • International students have increased by 24.1%in undergraduate enrollment since 2016/17.
  • 197,155 overseas students enrolled in postgraduate studies in the UK during the academic year 2016/17.
  • Between 2019/20 and 2020/21, international student enrolment at the postgraduate level increased by 13.08 %.

Total EU and non-EU students

  • The overall number of enrollees from EU nations is 152,905 as of 2020/21.
  • There were 452,225 non-EU students enrolled in all levels of higher education in the UK in 2020/21.

Undergraduate degree-

For undergraduate degrees, there are 14,120 EU students in the UK and 17,760 non-EU students in the UK (2020/21).

  • Full-time students
  • 106,095 EU students
  • 192,510 non-EU students
  • Part-time-
  • 3,050 students from EU countries
  • 13,185 from non-EU countries

Post-graduate degree –

Currently, for postgraduate degrees, there are 35,010 EU students and 202,665 non-EU students in the UK.

Full-time students-

  • 34,305 EU students
  • 230,085 from non-EU

Part-time students-

  • 9,460 EU students
  • 16,450 non-EU students

Level of study-

From 2019/20 to 2020/21, the total number of students enrolled increased by 9%. This chart line will show the level of study from 2017/18 to 2020/21.

Statistics on international students in uk - 2
Source: HESA. Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2020/21 – Where students come from and go to study and Who’s studying in, HE.

Source: HESA. Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2020/21 – Where students come from and go to study and who’s studying in HE.

International students’ application through UCAS

After the pandemic, In 2021 –

  • A total of 142,925 people of all ages applied globally (a 5% decrease from 2020) and 70,005 were admitted (a 1% increase).
  • Outside the EU, 111,255 people applied (+12%) and 54,030 were accepted (+2%).
  • EU- 31,670 people applied (-40%) and 16,025 were accepted (-50%).

Source: UCAS (UCAS end of cycle 2021: strong demand for UK HE amidst a global pandemic, Undergraduate (UCAS)

International Students in UK by Gender

In the 2019/2020 academic year, a total of 155 non-UK students in the “other” category got a postgraduate degree in the UK, followed by 95 students who received an undergraduate degree.

For Postgraduate studies-

  • In the 2019/2020 academic year, there were 83,960 non-UK female students who earned a postgraduate degree in the UK.
  • During the same academic year, however, a total of 59,530 non-UK male students acquired a postgraduate degree in the UK.

For Undergraduate studies-

  • A total of 47,450 international female students have completed an undergraduate degree in the United Kingdom.
  • In comparison, in the academic year 2019/2020, a total of 41,465 international male students got an undergraduate degree in the United Kingdom.

Student’s age group-

 Gender 2019/20 2020/21 
Age group  
20 and under44%45%
21-24 years44%45%
25-29 years50%49%
30 years and overs44%44%
Age unknown20%12%
Disability status  
Known disability44%45%
Unknown disability45%45%

This bar will display the number of male and female students enrolled in various topics during the 2020/21 academic year:

Statistics on international students in uk 1
Source: HESA, HE students by CAH level 1 and sex-Academic years 2019/20 to 2020/21

Source: HESA, HE students by CAH level 1 and sex-Academic years 2019/20 to 2020/21

The United Kingdom is one of the world’s most popular study abroad destinations. With an outstanding higher-education system and hundreds of world-class universities, the United Kingdom promises a rich experience for international students.

Thousands of international students study in the UK each year, resulting in a continuously high popularity rating for the country. The United Kingdom is an obvious choice for international students, with a diverse population and a reputation for excellent education.


How many international students are studying in the UK?

605,130 international students enrolled in the 2020/21 academic year, according to the most recent data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

What percentage of students in UK are international?

International students make up 20.7% of the total student population, 14.9% of all undergraduates and 37.1% of all postgraduates.

How many international students study in UK universities every year?

There were 496,11 students in the 2018–19 academic year, and 556,625 students in 2019–20.
2020-21 = 605,130 students studying in the UK

Which UK university has the highest percentage of international students?

These are some top universities with the highest proportion of international students-
§  University College London- 12,742
§  The University of Manchester- 10,880
§  The University of Edinburgh- 8,138
§  Coventry university-7,658