top uk universities
Institutions claim that local students now pose a significant “financial risk” due to the tuition fee cap of 9,250 British pounds. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

Many top UK universities are reportedly looking to enrol more international students instead of home students amid rising inflation.

They claim that local students pose a significant “financial risk” due to the tuition fee cap of 9,250 pounds. Some elite Russell Group universities say they are suffering an overall loss of £1,750 per year teaching each home student because tuition fees have been static for years amid soaring inflation, reported the Daily Mail

Nottingham University said their over-recruitment of local students and below-target recruitment of international students have caused them to lose some £3.4 million. 

As such, UK universities are now turning towards international students who do not have a tuition fee cap, and who pay up to £30,000 a year. In order to thrive and survive, UK universities are now coming up with new enrolment policies. 

Loughborough University’s meeting minutes revealed that they are freezing the number of local students as they devise measures to attract more international students.

The meeting minutes also said that the tuition fee cap, along with the inflation spike, “continues to constrain us financially, and growth in this area would represent a significant risk to the student experience”. 

Meanwhile, Manchester Metropolitan University aims to increase international student numbers by 10% and raise international student fee income to at least £31 million, or a 125% increase from their 2016 figures. 

top uk universities

Pedestrians exercise along the embankment in central London. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

In addition to the enrolment policies, the number of local students applying to UK universities has risen significantly too, impacting their chances of securing a place in their desired university.

Chief Executive of UCAS Clare Marchant said UK universities have begun exercising more restraint in their offer-making to local students. 

She said the offer rate for top UK universities is seeing a significant drop — 55.1% down from 60.5% in 2021. 

The Complete University Guide revealed that international students — including those from the EU — represent more than 50% of the overall student headcount in top universities such as Imperial College and the London School of Economics. 

Whereas, according to College News, universities with a third of international students include:

  • Edinburgh University 
  • Manchester University
  • University of Warwick 
  • University of Aberdeen 
  • City University 
  • King’s College London 
  • SOAS University of London 
  • Coventry University 
  • University of St Andrews
top uk universities

Some top UK universities are most reliant on international students. Source: Oli Scarff/AFP

More international students enrolling in top UK universities

The UK government had set a target in 2019 to attract some 600,000 international students by 2030. This was, however, met 10 years earlier when 605,130 international students entered the UK during the 2020-21 academic year. 

In addition, Marchant notes that 2022 now holds the record for the highest number of applicants and applications. It currently sees 667,000 applicants making almost three million applications.