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Wales: 19% rise in non-EU acceptances

Wales is continuing to be an attractive destination for international students, stakeholders have said, after UCAS data has shown a 19% rise in numbers accepting places in one year.

In 2019/20, Cardiff University hosted some 8,475 international students, while Swansea University welcomed 3,470. (Above: Swansea) Photo: iStock

Global Wales is aiming to grow international student numbers in the country to 30,000 by 2030

UCAS statistics have revealed that 1,875 undergraduate non-European Union international students accepted places at Welsh universities in the latest admissions cycle in 2021 – equivalent to 19% more than 2020.

However, numbers of applicants accepting places via UCAS from the EU have plummeted to 370 in 2021, from 1,115 in 2020.

Global Wales – an international partnership between Universities Wales, Welsh government, British Council Wales and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales – noted that the rise was one of the biggest among the UK nations and is “part of a broader positive trend”.

Together with domestic students, the total number of applicants accepted by Welsh universities are up by 1.5% compared to the same point last year, the organisation added. A record 11,625 applicants from England accepted places to study at the country’s universities in 2021.

“Against the backdrop of the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is highly encouraging to see that international enrolments have remained strong and international applications have increased across Wales,” Iwan Davies, chair of Global Wales said.

“It is highly encouraging to see that international enrolments have remained strong”

“This is thanks to the flexibility and innovative approaches developed by universities, and the warm welcome and excellent student experience that all students can expect to receive at our institutions.”

Chair of Universities Wales, Elizabeth Treasure, said the latest UCAS figures point to a continued “strong demand for higher education in Wales”.

“The university experience offers a wide range of benefits for students: not just in employment prospects but also in the wider social and cultural opportunities that our institutions offer. It is great to see a record number of young people continue to value these opportunities.”

With the aim to grow international student numbers in the country to 30,000 by 2030, the partnership is also looking to diversify the international student body in the country.

HESA statistics from 2019/20 show that 21,990 international students were in the country – 5,805 of whom were from within the EU.

The US, India and Vietnam have been set as priority countries, with the EU adopted as a fourth priority region in 2021.

“Global Wales provides an opportunity to capitalise on the strengths of our universities while also supporting Wales to define its role on the world stage,” Davies added.

“With the project’s continued support, I am confident that Welsh universities will remain on track to achieve their aim of growing international student numbers to 30,000 by 2030.”

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