The removal of caps on the number of European students allowed to study in the UK has led to increased courtship between UK universities and agents in the EU, according to a report from StudyTravel Magazine (ST Mag).

Furthermore, the introduction of a new postgraduate loan for which European students are eligible has caused increased activity between EU agents and UK institutions, according to the same report.

A number of EU-based agents who had confirmed their interest in higher education programmes at StudyTravel Alphe Conferences were surveyed, with all participants noting they had seen greater networking between themselves and UK universities, as well as agreeing that the recent postgraduate loan presents brand new business potential.

Pascal Carré, Director of the Study Experience agency in Belgium, told ST Mag that agreements between the agency and UK institutions were steadily on the rise, and forecasts that the number of students enrolled through the agency could double over the next two years.

Carré notes that the £10,000 loan targeting UK Master’s students will “definitely” help the region’s universities attract and retain top EU students. “Australia, Canada, and the U.S. do not have student loans in place, and this does influence a student’s choice before committing to four or five years of study, whatever the exchange rate may be.”

Patricia Melro, Founder and CEO of Portuguese agency StudyWing, confirmed, “We have received more proposals for partnerships, especially for postgraduate study,” before adding that the UK’s world-renowned reputation for high-quality research and industry links, paired with loans and bursaries that specifically target the international student population, are part of what makes the UK an increasingly attractive study destination for students from overseas.

“We have already noticed a risen interest and with the changes in place, I have no doubt that [the postgraduate loan] will create more business and partnerships,” she says.

According to the 2015 end-of-cycle report from UCAS, the UK’s premier service for undergraduate admissions to universities, enrolments from EU applicants grew by 11 percent to 29,300, the greatest single-year jump since UCAS first began collecting data back in 2006. In 2015, there was an eight percent rise in the total number of European applicants (50,700), while the acceptance rate improved by 1.5 percent to reach a total 57.8.

The largest source of acceptances derived from France, with a total of 3,060 (a 16 percent increase), with considerable increases seen in Romania (34 percent), Italy (26 percent), Poland (25 percent) and Spain (16 percent).

A spokesperson from Universities UK, the respected representative of 133 UK institutions, told ST Mag that the organisation fully supports the removal of the cap, as it grants both agents and institutions more flexibility when trying to match suitable applicants with the most relevant course.

“The removal of the undergraduate number cap in England may mean that some universities are now able to meet existing demand from EU applicants – something they may not have been able to do when the cap was in place. Some institutions have seen reasonably large increases in EU undergraduate numbers, but they tend to be similar to increases in UK students,” the spokesperson said. 

Additional reporting by StudyTravel Magazine

Image via Flickr.

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