Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

EU Student Numbers Up after Cap Comes Off

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

EU Student Numbers Up after Cap Comes Off

Article excerpt

Institutions step up recruitment on Continent amid concerns over loans access. John Morgan reports

A number of English universities, including some in the Russell Group, have increased their recruitment of European Union students by more than 40 per cent after the removal of controls on undergraduate places.

The increases were part of a record 11 per cent increase in EU numbers across the UK sector in 2015-16.

Universities said that the rise came after they had chosen to step up recruitment on the Continent and was aimed at increasing diversity in their intake.

But funding for EU students, who are entitled to public-backed loans for tuition fees, has been criticised by Eurosceptics. Continental graduates who return home are less likely to be repaying their loans than graduates who remain in the UK, an issue that could come to the surface again ahead of the forthcoming referendum on the UK's EU membership.

Diversity, demography and debt

The Higher Education Policy Institute had predicted in a 2014 report that there would be "clearer incentives for institutions to recruit EU students" once the government removed number controls in 2015, including "increasing income" and "mitigating the effect of demographic change" given the declining population of 18-year-olds in the UK.

Ucas' 2015 end of cycle report suggests that this did prove to be the case. "EU domiciled acceptances form around 5 to 6 per cent of all acceptances, and have increased in each cycle since 2006, apart from 2012. In 2015, acceptances from other countries in the EU increased by 2,900 (+11.1 per cent) to a record 29,300, the highest increase in a single year across the reported period," it says.

Figures for individual institutions recently published by Ucas show which universities increased EU recruitment the most in 2015.

Leading the list in terms of English institutions (applying a minimum bar of 100 EU students recruited in 2015) was University College Birmingham, where total EU acceptances rose from 165 the previous year to 285, a 72.7 per cent increase.

It was followed by the University of Northampton (up from 95 to 140, a 47.4 per cent increase), the University of East Anglia (up from 165 to 240, a 45.5 per cent increase), Newcastle University (also up from 165 to 240) and the University of Southampton (up from 290 to 415, a 43. …

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