UK breaks record with over 679,00 international students in 2022

Glasgow University UK

The UK attracts thousands of international students each year, thanks to its world-class universities and work opportunities. Keep reading to discover some of the top reasons to consider moving to the UK to study.

New data from Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows the UK now has a international student population of 679,970 as of 2022. British universities are acknowledged globally for their creative and challenging environments, that encourage students to be their best. Their standards are highly regarded, with experts on many academic topics, and they’re generally listed high in the World University Rankings. International students now make up 24% of the UK student population, of which 20% come from non-EU countries.

Read our article on why you should choose to study in the UK!

Year on Year change

The number of international students coming to the UK has considerably increased in recent years, there are now 679,970 living in the UK.

In 2021, a total of 605,130 were living in the UK, an increase from the 556,625 in 2020. This means there has been an increase of 123,345 students arriving since Covid19 restrictions were largely reduced.

In 2019 before Covid 19 restrictions, the international student population was 496,110, there are now an additional 183,860 students as of March 2023.

Countries of Origin

In 2022, there are 679,970 international students studying in the UK. 120,140 students come from the European Union and 559,825 come from the rest of the world. International students now make up 24% of the UK student population, of which 20% come from non-EU countries.

Top 10 source countries of international students living in the UK

  • China – 151,690
  • India – 126,535
  • Nigeria – 44,195
  • Pakistan – 23,075
  • United States – 22,990
  • Hong Kong – 17,630
  • Bangladesh – 12,700
  • Malaysia – 12,135
  • France – 11,870
  • Italy – 11,320

Top 10 source countries of new international students arriving in 2021

  • China – 99,965
  • India – 87,045
  • Nigeria – 32,945
  • Pakistan – 16,550
  • United States – 13,550
  • Bangladesh – 9,170
  • Hong Kong – 8,170
  • Malaysia – 5,665
  • Ireland – 4,415
  • France – 4,355

Universities with the most international students

Colleges and Universities hosting international students are primarily based in London or Scotland, but there are 160 universities alone in the UK, spread throughout the country.

Top 10 institutions of international students living in the UK

  • University College London – 24,145
  • The University of Manchester – 18,170
  • The University of Edinburgh – 18,050
  • The University of Glasgow – 17,390
  • King’s College London – 17,155
  • Coventry University – 15,565
  • University of Hertfordshire – 13,230
  • University of the Arts, London – 12,060
  • Ulster University – 12,045
  • Imperial College, London – 11,320

Why is the Uk so popular among international students?

There are great reasons why the UK is a top destination for international students. Ability to work part time, world-class universities and an easy move for English speakers.

Quality of education

While Cambridge and Oxford are two of the world’s best universities, you’ll find there are dozens of great choices throughout the country. No matter where you are looking to live and what subject you plan to study, you’ll have no trouble finding an educational institute in the UK to fit your needs. The universities in the UK consistently rank among the best in the world, providing high-quality education and globally recognised qualifications.


If you are a native English speaker, moving to the UK is one of the easiest options for you. There will be fewer miscommunications and misunderstandings, helping you to get set up and settled quickly when living here. The UK provides international students with the chance to improve their English language skills and gain fluency in a language widely used for business and communication worldwide.

Variety of courses

In the UK, you could study almost any subject you could imagine at one of the world’s top educational institutes. Whatever field you are looking to enter, you’ll find a course to support your future career dreams. British universities offer a vast array of courses and degree programs, catering to diverse academic interests. Whether you’re interested in humanities, sciences, engineering, business, or the arts, you’re likely to find a suitable degree.

Work and immigration opportunities

The opportunity to work in the UK after graduating has also increased the country’s popularity among foreign students. International graduates are increasingly obtaining the Skilled Worker visa for when their student visa runs out.

It allows UK employers to sponsor skilled workers to live in the UK full time. You must have a job on the occupations list and meet the salary requirements for your role. In 2021, there were 239,987 work visas granted, in which 151,106 were for the Skilled Worker visa.

Additionally, international students studying a degree healthcare related such as nursing or social work, can apply for the more superior Health and Care Worker visa. This visa exempts the Immigration Health Surcharge and has a more straight forward sponsorship process.

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