Undergraduate application trends from Asia to the UK

Admissions seasons in the UK is in high gear. A recent article in the Guardian notes, “This is the first cohort of undergraduates paying fees of up to £9,000 a year and uncertainty about how they will behave has been giving university heads some seriously sleepless nights….And there is no doubt that, in this complicated game of admissions poker, the stakes are alarmingly high.”

In this “admissions poker” international students, especially from Asia are going to play an important role. This is not only because of the dependency on large source countries but also because of the uncertainty and restrictions from recent student visa policy changes.

In the last decade, interest from China has swelled three times, making it the largest source country not only in terms of absolute numbers of applications to UCAS but also percentage growth. In contrast, number of undergraduate applications from Pakistan and Sri Lanka have decreased in last five years. Interest from Singapore has doubled in decade, after taking a dip in 2006. Interest from India and Korea has consistently grown in last decade, however, it is still smaller than Hong Kong and Malaysia and may face a decline this year.  

This indicates undergraduate market in the UK is significantly different as compared to the US, except China. It is a function of several aspects including history, diaspora, immigration policies, and alignment with education systems.

Given the changes in immigration policies, it will interesting to see how these trends change in 2012, especially from South Asian countries.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha