UK universities will rely on China for postgraduate growth

Monday 06 October 2014

 

• UK will gain 83,000 postgraduate (PG) international students over the next ten years, to remain second most popular destination for PG international students after the USA.

• UK will see a slight drop in overall international PG growth, projected at 3.5% to 2013-2024 compared to 4.1% in 2007-12.

• UK projected to gain most of its growth from China – 44%. The number of Indian PG students in the UK will increase, but at a slower rate. Nine per cent of the UK’s inbound PG growth to 2024 will be from India, whereas Indian students will represent  54 per cent of inbound PG growth for the US.

• Nigerian PG students will overtake Indian PGs in the UK: Of the 23 origin countries addressed in this research, China sends the highest number of PGs to the UK (49,000 students) followed by India (16,000) and Nigeria (12,000).  This will change over the next decade, however, and while China will continue to dominate enrolments with 85,000 PGs, Nigeria will send the second highest number of PGs (29,000), followed by India (24,000) and the US (15,000).

Download the report: https://ei.britishcouncil.org/educationintelligence/postgraduate-student-mobility-trends-2024

The UK is projected to gain an additional 83,000 postgraduate (PG) international students by 2024, according to a major new piece of forecasting research by the British Council.

The study Postgraduate student mobility to 2024 examines current trends in PG mobility between key origin and destination countries, and will forecast student flows through the next decade.

The UK will remain the world’s second largest host of PG students, seeing a growth of 83,000 PG students between 2013-24. The UK is projected to have 241,000 international PG students in 2024, compared to 159,000 in 2012. But that will be a slight slowdown in annual growth, 3.5% growth in 2013-24 compared to 4.1% from, 2007-12.

The research, based on available demographic and economic data up to 2012, suggests an increasing reliance on Chinese and Indian postgraduate students to take up courses in the six main ‘destination’ countries for postgraduates: Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, the UK and USA. China will remain the largest source of international PG students by 2024, with a forecasted annual average growth of 3.4 per cent, and with total outbound postgraduates to the selected destination countries increasing from 227,000 in 2012 to 338,000 in 2024. 

In absolute terms, India is forecast to be the fastest growing source of international postgraduates, with the number of students expected to rise from 88,000 in 2012 to 209,000 in 2024.

Significant growth in numbers of international PG students is also expected in several ‘emerging’ origin countries, including Nigeria (+24,000), Saudi Arabia (+16,000), Indonesia (+12,000) and Pakistan (+12,000). Alongside India and China, these countries will present important opportunities for inbound growth for host countries.

Professor Rebecca Hughes, British Council Director of Education, commented “All international students make a tremendous academic, cultural and economic contribution to life in the UK, but postgraduate students are particularly important in building our next generation of researchers and contributing to the UK’s global professional networks. 

“In England, three quarters of all full-time taught Masters students are now from overseas and some courses rely for their sustainability on the international student intakes. In science, technology, engineering and mathematics, more than half (52%) of full-time MPhil and PhD students are from overseas.

“Tackling global challenges requires global collaboration and understanding, so it’s very positive to see that the UK attracts, and will attract even more of the most ambitious and brightest young people from around the world to gain postgraduate skills and knowledge here. It will be great to welcome more Nigerian students in particular over the next decade to provide a greater African perspective to the debates and discoveries in our classrooms and laboratories” Prof Hughes added.

The report’s author, Zainab Malik, Director of Research for British Council Education Intelligence, said: “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. Considering the numerous factors that can affect international student mobility, diversifying postgraduate recruitment strategies may not only help lessen that dependence but also broaden and deepen global skills and knowledge exchange.”

By 2024, the UK is forecast to become largely dependent on Chinese inbound postgraduates, which is expected to account for 44% of total inbound postgraduate growth. In the US, this dependence will be slightly less, with 33% of inbound postgraduate growth attributed to Chinese students. Although this figure still shows reliance on China will remain high, by 2024 the US will be more heavily dependent on students from India, who are expected to account for 54% of inbound postgraduate growth.

Notes to Editor

The report Postgraduate student mobility to 2024 will be available after 00:01 6 October for free download to registered users of the British Council Education Intelligence site at: https://ei.britishcouncil.org/educationintelligence/postgraduate-student-mobility-trends-2024

About the research

This new research forecasts key drivers of student mobility and postgraduate student flows to 2024 and includes analysis of the largest inbound and outbound growth markets of the next decade.

This report builds upon the forecasts of two British Council forecasting reports, The shape of things to come: Higher education global trends and emerging opportunities to 2020 and Thefuture of the world’s mobile students to 2024.

Data coverage

For this research, 23 outbound markets as well as six inbound markets were selected for analysis based on significance in the international higher education market, their tertiary and postgraduate market size (current and potential) and data availability. Forecasts of student mobility took into account demographic and economic data for each market, as well as historical trends and bilateral trade patterns; forecasts are based upon these indicators, for which there is data available, and do not take into account other variables that may affect international student mobility in the future.

Key global forecasts

• In 2024, India will be home to the largest tertiary-aged population, numbering over 119 million

• China will become home to the second-largest tertiary-aged population, decreasing 30 million from 2012 to equal 79 million in 2024

• India will have the highest number of tertiary enrolments in 2024, numbering 48 million, followed by China (37 million), the US (22 million), and Indonesia (11 million)

• The strongest annual average growth in outbound postgraduate mobility will occur in Nigeria (+8.3%), followed by India (+7.5%), Indonesia (+7.2%), Pakistan (+6.4%) and Saudi Arabia (+5.2%).

• India postgraduate outbound mobility will have a higher annual average growth rate through the next decade than China

• China will be the largest source of international postgraduate students in 2024, with total outbound postgraduates to selected markets numbering 338,000, compared to India’s 209,000

• To 2024, the US will remain the number one inbound postgraduate destination, hosting 407,000 postgraduates, followed the by the UK, which will host 241,000, Germany (113,000 inbound postgraduates) and Australia (112,000 inbound postgraduates).

• Australia and Canada are forecast to have the highest annual average growth in inbound postgraduate mobility, at 4.1 per cent each

• The US inbound postgraduate market is predicted to grow at four per cent annual average change

• The UK and Japan are expected to see slowed growth, at 3.5 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively

• In 2024, China is expected to account for 44 per cent of growth in inbound postgraduates to the UK and India is expected to account for 54 per cent of the US’ growth in inbound postgraduates.

• Postgraduate bilateral flows from China and India to leading destination countries will remain the largest through 2024.

Data on postgraduate students in England taken from the Higher Education Funding Council for England http://www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/crosscutting/sivs/supplydemand/

Full Time Taught MA 2012-13 in England

 
 

All subjects

STEM subjects

 
 

Students

%

Students

%

 

UK

30,300

26%

5510

24%

 

EU

14655

13%

3315

15%

 

Internatl

69515

61%

14000

61%

 
           

Total

114,470

 

22825

20% of all students

           
           
           

Full Time Mphil and PhD 2012-13 in England

 
 

All subjects

STEM subjects

 
 

Students

%

Students

%

 

UK

11,515

50%

4970

48%

 

EU

3130

14%

1570

15%

 

Internatl

8380

36%

3885

37%

 
           

Total

23,025

 

10425

45% of all students

           

Full Time Post-Grad 2012-13 in England

 
 

All subjects

STEM subjects

 
 

Students

%

Students

%

 

UK

41,815

30%

10480

32%

 

EU

17785

13%

4885

15%

 

Internatl

77895

57%

17885

54%

 
           

Total

137,495

 

33250

24% of all students

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