UK Student visa grants now double pre-pandemic levels

September 05, 2023
[caption id="attachment_157" align="alignleft" width="365"]What are the requirements for obtaining your UK Work Visa? UK Visa. Photo: Collected[/caption] In addition to the encouraging UCAS updates on the volume of foreign applications for 2023–2024, the most recent statistics from the UK Home Office paints a picture of skyrocketing student visa applications for this year. For the fiscal year that ends in June 2023, the Home Office reports granting little under 500,000 student visas. This is a rise of 23% year over year and double (108%) the number of visas awarded for the fiscal year that ended in June 2018. “Changes in visa numbers over recent years will reflect a range of factors including policy changes and the changes in travel patterns following the COVID-19 pandemic, so comparisons should be treated with some caution,” notes the Home Office release. In other words, part of that growth can be attributed to a post-COVID surge that may normalise in the years to come. But even so, there are some fascinating trends to observe in the surging numbers for 2023. [caption id="attachment_1924" align="alignleft" width="800"]Study visas granted to main applicants between year ending June 2014 and year ending June 2023. Source: UK Home Office Study visas granted to main applicants between year ending June 2014 and year ending June 2023. Source: UK Home Office[/caption] The majority of those visas—nearly 143,000 or 29% of the total number—were issued to Indian students. India is now the undisputed top shipper of students to the UK, surpassing China for the first time around a year ago. This is a year-over-year growth of 54% for Indian students alone. In contrast, during the previous two years, fewer Chinese students have been granted visas. Nigeria was the other big gainer this year among the top source markets for the UK, with a growth rate of 73% over 2022. The proportion of EU students in the UK’s foreign enrolment base continues to decline this year. The total number of visas granted to EEA and Swiss students declined (very) marginally to 23,912 for the year ending June 2023.

Another solid quarter for UK ELT

The latest quarterly report from English UK is another bright spot as the peak body reports a total of 135,000 students weeks for the second quarter of 2023. This represents 25% year-over-year growth for the same quarter in 2022; with a mix of 83% adult and 17% junior learners. Those numbers bring the sector to 81% of pre-pandemic volumes for the quarter and set the stage for continued recovery in the peak summer season. “Recovery in the second quarter of this year was solid,” adds English UK. “The full results reveal many individual source countries (just under half) sent higher volumes than in Q2 2019 – an indication of promising short-term growth potential across a number of the UK’s markets.” Compared to the QI results, we also see a slight change in the mix for the top sending markets in Q2, and especially so with stronger numbers from the key Latin Markets of Brazil and Colombia.