Universities have seen the number of European Union students halve and a rise in non-EU learners since Brexit, a vice chancellor has said.
According to David Richardson, the number of EU students at the University of East Anglia had dropped by half by 2021, a trend that was seen “across the sector nationally.”
However, he stated that non-EU student numbers had nearly returned to pre-Covid levels.
According to the government, it is working to increase the number of international students in the country.
The number of EU students at Norwich’s UEA fell from 449 in 2020 to 226 this year, while the number of non-EU students increased from 1,194 to 1,494.
According to Prof Richardson, the number of international students at UEA “dipped last year when we were at the peak of the pandemic.”
He claimed that the number of EU students was being cut in half “across the university sector nationally.”
When the UK was a member of the EU, students from other member countries had to pay the same amount as British nationals, up to £9,250 per year.
Tuition fees have been set by universities since August 2021, with some charging as much as £40,000 per year.
First-year foreign students contribute £1.7bn a year to the East of England’s economy and £28.8bn to the national economy, according to the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).
This breaks down to:
- £214m to the economy of Cambridge (University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University students)
- £135.5m to the economy of Norwich (UEA and Norwich University of the Arts students)
- £107.5m to the economy of Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield (served by the University of Hertfordshire)
- £62.9m to the economy of Colchester (served by Essex University)
- £82.1m to the economy of Northampton (University of Northampton)
- £28.6m to the economy of Ipswich (University of Suffolk)
Prof Richardson said international students were vital.
“A single cohort will contribute more than £100 million to the region,” he said.
“A lot of my friends in Cyprus do not want to come to university here [the UK] because tuition fees are so high now because of Brexit and now there is no support from the EU,” UEA student Andreas Cornelious from Cyprus said.
Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), based in Cambridge and Chelmsford, saw its number of EU students fall from 503 in 2020 to 350 in 2021, while its number of non-EU international students increased from 1,764 to 2,050.
Roderick Watkins, vice chancellor of ARU, stated: “We have seen a significant decrease in students joining us from the EU, as we expected, as a result of Brexit.
“However, we have seen significant growth in international students from outside the EU in recent years, which has more than offset the decline in EU students.”
According to data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, there were 28,400 EU student applications in 2021, compared to 49,650 in 2020, a 43 percent decrease.
Non-EU student applications, on the other hand, increased by 14%, from 89,130 in 2020 to 102,000 in 2021.
International student applications fell by 6% overall, from 138,770 in 2020 to 130,390 in 2021.
According to a spokesperson for the Department of Education: “International students, including those from the EU, are an important and valued part of our higher education sector, and a proactive global education agenda is more important than ever in order to recover from the pandemic.
“We have seen a significant increase in international students in recent years, and our recently bolstered International Education Strategy aims to build on this, with the goal of sustainably increasing the number of international higher education students hosted in the UK to at least 600,000 per year by 2030.”
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