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International competition for foreign postgraduates will increase for UK over next decade

Posted by Hannah Walker in

The UK is currently one of the largest hosts for international postgraduates, but recent reports from the British Council show that competition over the coming decade will be fierce. The United States, Australia and Canada are expanding with pace and figures have revealed that the UK's average recruitment will decrease from 4.1% between 2007 and 2012 to 3.5%. Despite a predicted drop in applicant numbers, Britain will still remain one of the world's largest hosts over the next decade with an expected growth of 241,000 by 2014.

Researchers have voiced concern that Britain's expansion in higher education "hinges critically upon just one market" - Chinese students. The report shows that as much as 44% of the UK's expected growth will be coming from China, with India making a comparatively low contribution with just 9%. Worryingly for Britain, India is on course to account for 54% of US expansion. Zainab Malik, director of research at the British Council's Education Intelligence team, stated that, "we knew China and India would be a big part of the story, but were surprised at the level of dependence on these origin countries."

To predict figures from international communities, researchers looked at age, population and GDP in order to predict enrollment into universities. To calculate the proportion that would then go abroad for postgraduate courses, they drew upon exchange rates and household incomes, and then assessed current trends and bilateral trade forecasts to foretell where the students would go overseas. By 2024 the report indicated that the UK would see 85,000 postgraduates from China, 29,000 from Nigeria, 24,000 from India and 15,000 from the US.

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