Publication - Corporate report

The impact of international students in Scotland: Scottish Government response

Published: 12 Mar 2018
Directorate:
Advanced Learning and Science Directorate
Part of:
Education, Research
ISBN:
9781788516877

This publication analyses the economic, social and cultural contribution of international students to Scotland.

34 page PDF

606.2 kB

34 page PDF

606.2 kB

Contents
The impact of international students in Scotland: Scottish Government response
Chapter One – International Students in Scotland

34 page PDF

606.2 kB

Chapter One – International Students in Scotland

International students at Scotland's Higher Education Institutes ( HEIs)

Scotland is highly successful, compared to the UK and internationally, in attracting international students to study at Scottish higher education institutions. The latest available data suggests that international students account for 22% of students at Scottish higher education institutions ( HEIs) compared to 19% of students studying in HEIs across the UK as a whole. International students account for 19% of international students in England, 16% in Wales, and 10% in Northern Ireland. The proportion of non- UK students enrolled in HEIs has remained relatively constant over the past five years, with non- UK students consistently making up 2-3% more of student enrolments in Scottish HEIs than across the UK as a whole.

Of the 241,935 students enrolled in Scottish HEIs in 2016-17 (both undergraduate and postgraduate), 189,630 (78%) were UK domiciled, 31,045 (13%) were non- EU domiciled and 21,245 (9%) were EU (non- UK) domiciled.

Student enrolments on HE courses in UK HEIs by domicile, 2016-17 [1]

  UK Students International Students
Number % of total number of students Number % of total number of students
Scotland 189,630 78% 52,290 22%
England 1,528,030 81% 363,585 19%
Wales 108,190 84% 21,205 16%
Northern Ireland 49,275 90% 5,295 10%
UK 1,875,125 81% 442,375 19%

Student enrolments on HE courses in UK HEIs by domicile, 2012-13 to 2016-17 [2]

  2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
All UKs
Total UK 1,915,150 1,863,860 1,829,195 1,842,315 1,875,125
EU 125,330 125,300 124,575 127,440 134,835
non- EU 299,990 310,195 312,010 310,575 307,540
Total non- UK 425,320 435,495 436,585 438,010 442,375
Total 2,340,470 2,299,355 2,266,075 2,280,830 2,317,880
% non- UK 18% 19% 19% 19% 19%
Scotland
Total UK 184,005 182,445 182,545 184,630 189,630
EU 18,640 19,750 20,805 20,945 21,245
non- EU 28,305 28,610 29,210 29,980 31,045
Total non- UK 46,945 48,360 50,010 50,925 52,290
Total 230,950 230,805 232,570 235,565 241,935
% non- UK 20% 21% 22% 22% 22%

Whilst international students are attracted to study in Scotland at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level, they are much more prevalent in postgraduate courses. In 2016-17, international (both EU and non- EU domiciled) students accounted for 58% of students on full-time postgraduate courses in Scottish HEIs and 19% of students on full-time undergraduate courses.

Scotland attracts a high proportion of international students relative to other OECD countries. [3] In 2014, Scotland ranked second (21.5%), behind Luxembourg (44%), out of the OECD countries for which data was available. The UK ranked fifth (18%), closely followed by Switzerland (17%). New Zealand was ranked third (19%), and Australia was ranked fourth (18%).

Students at Scottish HEIs split by mode of mode of attendance, level of study & domicile, 2016-17 [4]

Mode Level EU Non- EU UK All
Full-time Postgraduate 15% 43% 42% 36,495
Undergraduate 10% 9% 82% 147,300
Total 11% 15% 74% 183,795
Part-time Postgraduate 5% 7% 88% 22,330
Undergraduate 2% 3% 95% 35,805
Total 3% 5% 92% 58,140
All Total 9% 13% 78% 241,935

EU students at higher education institutions

International students as a whole make up a higher proportion of the student body in Scottish HEIs (22%) than they do for the UK as a whole (19%). However, a larger proportion of international students in Scotland are from within the EU than is the case for the rest of the UK. This may be a consequence of the different arrangements for tuition fees for EU students in Scotland compared to elsewhere in the UK, as discussed in chapter two of this paper.

Of those students studying at Scottish HEIs from within the EU, the countries with the highest proportion of students were Germany (5% of the total number of both EU and non- EU international students), Ireland (4%), France (4%), Italy (3%), Greece (3%) and Bulgaria (3%).

non- UK EU student enrolments in Scottish HEIs – top ten sending countries 2016-17 [5]

Country of origin Number of students % of non- UK student total
Germany 2,805 5%
Ireland 1,880 4%
France 1,850 4%
Italy 1,830 3%
Greece 1,540 3%
Bulgaria 1,335 3%
Spain 1,250 2%
Poland 960 2%
Finland 825 2%
Sweden 820 2%

UCAS data shows that the number of non- UK EU-domiciled students applying to Scottish HEIs in the 2017 cycle decreased by 3.7% compared to the previous year, decreasing by 730 applicants to 19,090. This compares to the number of non- UK EU-domiciled students applying to English HEIs decreasing by 5.1% compared to the previous year, decreasing by 2,250 applicants to 42,080.

The number of non- UK EU-domiciled applicants who were accepted by Scottish HEIs in 2017 decreased by 10% (470 students) from 4,650 to 4,175, although this follows an increase to a record high the previous year. The number of non- UK EU-domiciled applicants accepted by English HEIs decreased by 1 per cent (270 students) from 24,840 to 24,565.

The decline in applications and acceptances from EU students to study in Scotland broadly coincides with the timing of the EU referendum and the beginning of the UK Government process to withdraw from the European Union.

Non- EU students at higher education institutions

Of those students from outwith the EU, the countries with the highest proportion of students were China (16% of all EU and non- EU international students), the United States (9%), India (3%) and Malaysia (3%).

Non- EU student enrolments in Scottish HEIs – top ten sending countries, 2016/17 [6]

Country of origin Number of students % of non- UK student total
China (exc. Hong Kong) 8,475 16%
United States 4,480 9%
India 1,425 3%
Malaysia 1,415 3%
Nigeria 1,265 2%
Canada 1,055 2%
Hong Kong 940 2%
Saudi Arabia 760 1%
Norway 700 1%
Singapore 670 1%

International students at Scotland's colleges

The number of students at Scotland's colleges whose home area prior to study was overseas (both EU and non- EU) has been consistently fairly small, representing around 1% of all students. While there may be a sizeable number of students from other countries already living in Scotland who attend a college, we cannot be certain that the opportunity to study is the primary reason for them to choose to live in Scotland.

Enrolments at Scotland's colleges, by student's home area prior to study, 2011-12 to 2015-16 [7]

Domicile 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
UK 317,975 295,025 297,390 294,414 278,575 289,959
EU 760 682 565 469 487 510
Non- EU 1,911 1,879 1,873 2,128 1,987 1,339
             
Total Non- UK 2,671 2,561 2,438 2,597 2,474 1,849
Total 320,646 297,586 299,828 297,011 281,054 291,843
% Non- UK 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1%

While the number of international students at Scotland's colleges is low, the data shows that international students make up a larger share of the student body in Scottish HEIs than they do for the UK as a whole, and that students from other EU countries account for a larger proportion of all international students than for the UK overall. This suggests that the economic contribution of international students at HEIs, particularly EU students, will be greater and the impact of the policies that affect them will be felt more acutely in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK.


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Email: * Ed Thomson