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8th December 2023

UK Faces Steep Decline in International Student Numbers

Recent data paints a bleak picture for the UK's international student intake in January.

While challenges persist, university leaders stress the importance of adapting and innovating recruitment strategies.

In a concerning revelation, the latest real-time data from Enroly Data Insights paints a bleak picture for the UK’s international student intake in January 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. The data, gathered from a diverse range of UK universities, reflects the experiences of over 58,000 international students and highlights a substantial downturn in key metrics.

Deposit payments, a critical indicator, have plummeted by 52%, while Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) issuance and visa issuance have seen even more drastic declines, down by 64% and 71%, respectively. The stark figures are driven by a collapse in the Nigerian market, witnessing drops of 74% in deposits and 76% in CAS/visa issuance. Additionally, indications suggest a significant decline in students from India, with deposits down by 52% and CAS/visa issued down by 66%.

Even accounting for an additional December intake, the combined figures for December and January show a 49% reduction in deposits and a 60% reduction in CAS issued compared to January 2023.

The Enroly Data Team explored the possibility of CAS processing delays impacting the data but found that, on average, universities opened CAS processing only one week later than in January 2023, with minimal expected impact.

The data also highlights market-level declines, with India and Nigeria being major contributors to the overall drop in numbers.

As the processing window nears its close, and with a forecasted substantial drop in student activity from mid-December, it leaves little room for universities to reverse the initial declines.

While challenges persist, we continue to stress the importance of adapting and innovating your recruitment strategies and the need for universities to navigate challenges with agility, reliance on data, and advanced tools.

If you need any support or just a discussion on how we can help use tactical or strategic levers to ride through this wave of decline, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch, below.



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