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UK set to be overtaken by Australia in attracting international students

The UK is expected to be overtaken by Australia as the second most popular country in the world for international students, according to researchers, who warned Brexit could have a further impact.While the US remains the most popular destination for overseas students, recent trends indicate that the UK could be pushed into third place – if it hasn’t already.A paper published by the Centre for Global Higher Education shows that between 2011 and 2015, the numbers of international students going to the US for higher education rose by around 198,000 (27.9%), while UK numbers rose by about 11,000 (2.6%).Over the same period, the numbers going to Australia increased by almost 32,000 (12%), according to the research, which is based on an analysis of UNESCO data on international studentsAdditional figures for Australia show a rise of around 41,000 in 2016, compared to 2015 (about 14%).The paper says that further figures from Australia indicate a growth in numbers again in 2017 and 2018.”In 2015, the UK received 136,000 more students than Australia,” it says. “But when full figures for 2018 are available they will show that if the UK is still ahead of Australia the gap is only slight. In fact, Australia may have already passed UK.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Professor Simon Marginson, author of the study, said: “Australian numbers are growing at 12-14% a year – while the UK is standing still.”Unless UK policy changes tack, the nation will continue to lose global market share. When the data for 2018 come in, it is possible that Australia will have already passed the UK in total international student numbers (both Europe and rest of world together).”The UK remains strong in Europe, but its position in Europe will take a hit after Brexit. It looks certain Australia will be world number two by 2019, with the UK falling to number three.”The government has announced that for the 2019/20 academic year – the year after Brexit – EU students starting courses at English universities will still be eligible for the same student loans and tuition fee rates as home students. Figures published by UCAS earlier this month showed that, as of the end of June, the number of EU students submitting applications to study at UK universities this autumn has risen by two percent to 50,130, while a record 75,380 students from countries outside the EU have submitted applications – up six percent on last year.Andrew Norton, Higher Education Program Director for the Grattan Institure in Australia, told The Telegraph the “Australian international student market is still growing strongly”.Noting that the most important criteria for students is how welcoming a country is, he added: “Sydney and Melbourne in particular are seen as very welcoming.”He also pointed out that “it is still relatively easy to stay in Australia after graduating for students taking higher education courses”.”About 42,000 2-4 year work visas were granted to former international students from 1 July 2017 to 30 April 2018,” he said.Universities Australia’s chief executive Belinda Robinson said the growth in the international student market reflected the quality that was on offer.”We have almost doubled enrolments over the past decade and built international education into Australia’s third-largest export sector,” Ms Robinson told ABC News in April.”This supports Australian communities, jobs, regional economies and our relationships in the world.” read more