An examination of UK higher education data shows that the country is the second top destination for international students, with a massive growth in enrolment in the recent years.

The UK Higher Education International Unit yesterday released its International Higher Education in Facts and Figures 2016 report, which gives a broad overview of international university study trends, especially in regard to the United Kingdom.

The report named the United Kingdom as second leading destination for international students, capturing 10.3% of the market. In that regard, the UK is only bested by the United States with its 19.4% share of the market.

The popularity of the UK as a study destination is helped by the fact that UK graduates have among the lowest unemployment rates in the OECD – 2.7% for bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) holders, and 2.1% for master’s degree (or equivalent) holders.

In the decade between 2003 and 2013, the UK experienced a massive influx of foreign students – an impressive 63.3% increase, climbing from 255,233 to 416,693 students.

This surge in international students is almost certainly due to the rapid rise of China’s middle class. With increased discretional income, Chinese families are able to send their children abroad to prestigious educational institutions in the West.

From 2014 to 2015, over one in five non-UK students and one in three non-EU students in the UK originated from China. China, by far, sent the highest number of students to the UK, totalling 89,540. India came in second with 18,320 students in the UK.

The report highlighted the dependence of the UK higher education industry on foreign revenue. UK research saw a significant rise in overseas funding – an increase of over 65% in just the previous five years. And perhaps more importantly, non-UK students contribute an estimated £11 billion to the economy. 

Image via Flickr.

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