This article is more than 7 years old

Over exposed: where are the EU students?

Where are all the EU students in the UK? We take a look at which universities face the potential for greatest losses if recruitment of EU students becomes much harder following Brexit.
This article is more than 7 years old

News, analysis and explanation of higher education issues from our leading team of wonks

It is hard to see how student recruitment from the EU can be stable until the final exit agreements have been made. Prospective students will need to know, at the very least, about the fee levels and visa requirements which will govern their studies in the UK.

All universities will be hoping for early certainty on these issues so that they can provide the necessary reassurance. We have already seen the Principal of Aberdeen reassure continuing students that they won’t be out-of-pocket if their fee status changes as a result of the Brexit referendum.

HESA’s statistics for 2014-15 show that studying in the UK’s universities were 46,230 postgraduate students and 78,435 undergraduates originating from the European Union (excluding the UK). These students made up 5.5% of the total student population.

The proportions of EU students in the four nations, and the total (EU students, both UG and PG) numbers, were:

Northern Ireland4.8%2,730

It is hardly a surprise that Scotland leads the way within the UK given that EU students are eligible for fee-free undergraduate education as Scottish-domiciled students do. With the threat that offer-holders from the EU might not take up their places for the next academic session, we would expect that the planners will be looking at their institutional exposure and considering whether it’s possible at this late stage in the recruitment cycle to make up a likely deficit with either home or non-EU international students.

Institutional exposure: the numbers and proportions

The following tables are all taken from the HESA statistics, available here. (CC BY 4.0).

The universities with the most EU students in 2014-15 were:

InstitutionEU postgraduates
University College London2250
University of Oxford1625
London School of Economics and Political Science1540
Imperial College1480
King's College London1465
University of Cambridge1365
University of Edinburgh1300
City University1220
Cranfield University1050
University of Birmingham855
InstitutionEU undergraduates
University of Glasgow2360
University of Edinburgh2035
University of Aberdeen2010
King's College London1825
University College London1720
University of Westminster1610
University of the Arts, London1595
Coventry University1485
University of Manchester1430
University of Essex1335

The universities with the highest proportion of EU students in 2014-15 were:

InstitutionEU postgraduates (%)
University of St Andrews27.1
Cranfield University25.3
London School of Economics and Political Science24.9
Royal College of Art24.2
Royal College of Music22.4
Royal Academy of Music22
University College Birmingham20
University of Abertay Dundee20
Arts University Bournemouth20
InstitutionEU undergraduates (%)
Royal Academy of Music20.8
University of Aberdeen20
Royal College of Music18.8
Guildhall School of Music and Drama16.2
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance15.1
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh13.6
Conservatoire for Dance and Drama13.6
Glasgow School of Art13
School of Oriental and African Studies12.8
Imperial College12.4

From the tables, we can see significant exposure to the EU student market, as expected, for Scottish universities. It’s also evident that specialist art and music providers could find the going tough. Expect in particular the top recipients of EU postgraduates to be looking closely at how diminishing recruitment could affect the bottom line.

8 responses to “Over exposed: where are the EU students?

  1. PGT ought to be safe – nothing can happen for two years after all and they’ll be home and hosed before then. So long as that message is clearly understood and rational minds prevail…oh…

  2. Thanks Wonkhe, as useful as ever. Any chance that you could publish the tables above in full, not just the top ten?

  3. Thanks Wonkhe – We’ve already seen a lot of concern from prospective postgraduates over at FindAMasters. The timing of the referendum five days before the opening of postgraduate loan applications has been ‘interesting’.

    Incidentally, some research undertaken by our organisation suggests nearly 60% of EU students would be less likely to consider the UK post-Brexit. It was a small sample size, but may be of interest:

Leave a Reply