1994 Group statement on the drop in non-EU postgraduate students

Alex Bols, Executive Director of the 1994 Group, said:

“International postgraduate students are vital for the UK’s research base and our economy. The 1994 Group is therefore extremely concerned about the figures released by the Higher Education Statistical Agency (Hesa) which show a 1% drop in the number of postgraduate students travelling from non-EU countries to study at UK universities in the 2011/12 academic year. The indications are that entry for 2012/13 has been even worse. This follows a period of 6 years annual growth of 10% in international university applications.

“These figures show that the government’s regressive reforms to the student visa system and the Home Secretary's megaphone alienating rhetoric are unnecessarily shrinking the size of our potential graduate talent pool. We are increasingly anxious that this is specifically deterring the world’s most able students from applying to the UK. 

“British universities are renowned worldwide for their research and teaching quality. If we wish to continue to attract the brightest postgraduate students to the UK the Government needs to act now to support Higher Education institutions in doing so.

“Last year international students paid £2.5bn to universities in tuition fees; a figure that is expected to double by 2025.  These fees account for over 9% of total university income. On top of that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) estimates that international students add roughly £4.5bn to the wider economy year on year - money that sustains demand in local economies as domestic consumers belt-tighten.

“International students provide employers with a pool of highly talented, well-educated graduates and add welcome cultural diversity to our campuses. As alumni they often go on to serve as excellent ambassadors for Britain across the world with strong tendencies to build business relations with the UK. While visa abuse must be curtailed, targeting quality students applying for courses at top universities is not the way to go about it.”


Media Contact:

Sally Pickering

0207 664 4844


Notes to Editors


1. The 1994 Group represents 11 leading smaller universities. It was founded to promote excellence in research and teaching. According to the most recent assessments, 88% of its members’ research is internationally recognised (RAE 2008) and 88% of its members’ students were satisfied with their university experiences (NSS 2012). In 2011, its members added £1.7bn to the UK economy, fulfilled over 1800 research contracts for business, and held stakes in 34 spin-out companies.

2. 6 of the top 30 universities in the Guardian University Guide 2013 are 1994 Group members; 7 of the top 30 universities in the Complete University Guide 2012 are 1994 Group members; 11 of the UK’s top-ranked research departments are in 1994 members, and all its members have a top-3 rated department for research excellence.

3. The 1994 Group represents Birkbeck, University of London; the University of East Anglia; the University of Essex; Goldsmiths, University of London; the Institute of Education, University of London; Royal Holloway, University of London; Lancaster University; the University of Leicester; Loughborough University; the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the University of Sussex.

back to latest news index