EU numbers had already dropped from 26,440 in 2019.
The 9% non-EU rise saw Malaysia increasing by 33% up to 2,230 placed applicants, the US up 33% to 2,160, and Nigeria up 40% to 840. Overall numbers in 2019 stood at 33,630 and in 2020 34,310, statistics show.
The UK’s two biggest markets, China and India, also saw modest increases. China rose from 7,490 in 2019 to 8,570 in 2020 to 9,740 in 2021. Indian numbers rose from 2,430 in 2019, to 2,680 in 2020 to 3,200 in the latest figures.
While in 2019, 10 EU countries – among them Italy, Poland, Greece and Germany – saw more than 1,000 placed students and now only France and Spain have more than 1,000 applicants, with 1,220 and 1,210, respectively.
“Universities have been flexible with their decisions to accommodate as many students as possible onto their first choice of course,” UCAS chief executive Clare Marchant said.
“Over the following days and weeks, we’re ready to help anyone without a place find the opportunity that’s right for them in clearing.”
Chief executive of UKCISA Anne Marie Graham welcomed the record number of international students from outside the EU.
UUK welcomed the overall record 435,430 students who had applications confirmed.
“Embarking on a degree is a uniquely exciting time, with the skills and experience students set to gain lasting a lifetime, giving them an edge in the employment market and generating significant benefits for the UK as we rebuild from the pandemic,” said chief executive of Universities UK Alistair Jarvis.
“Universities will continue prioritising the health and safety of students while preparing for a much fuller in-person experience this year, and look forward to welcoming students in the autumn.”