Boomtime forecast for Chinese applicants to UK HE by 2030

A predicted 50,000 Chinese students will apply to undergraduate courses at United Kingdom universities by 2030, with nearly half of those getting accepted on a programme, according to research findings presented to the 2022 International Higher Education Forum (IHEF) hosted by Universities UK International (UUKi) on 17 March 2022.

The forecast comes in a new report from the Australian-based software company, Sinorbis, titled The Next Boom: How UK universities can benefit from growing Chinese international student demand.

It is based on market trends, population growth of teenagers in China and the increasing popularity of the UK as a study destination for Chinese students compared with its traditional main rivals of Australia and the United States.

24,000 Chinese entrants by 2030

The report says its prediction of 24,000 first-year entrants on to undergraduate courses at UK universities would mean “a staggering 70% increase from 14,000 Chinese students who were accepted into programmes in 2021”.

The forecast is based on analysing raw data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) end of cycle and deadline releases and United Nations population data for China and looking at trends over the past five years regarding where potential study abroad Chinese students are looking to study.

The research was carried out by British-based dataHE for Sinorbis.

Sinorbis has operations in both Sydney and the UK and helps education and businesses engage digitally with Chinese markets.

Jeremy Phillips, who manages its UK partnerships, told the UUKi conference that after years of decline, China’s teenage population was growing and there would be 5% more 18- and 19-year-olds in China by 2030.

He predicted that if market trends continue and there is no unforeseen major geopolitical disruption to UK-China relations, the number of Chinese students coming to the UK to study in the 17- to 25-year-old age group will rise from one in 1,200 at the moment to one in 700 by 2030.

“The UK can look forward to 10,000 more Chinese students coming to study at UK universities by 2030,” he said.

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