UK universities fear huge budget holes as Chinese students stay home

Apr 10, 2020 by

Overseas students, who represent a third of all tuition fee income, cancel plans amid coronavirus outbreak

British universities fear that the loss of tens of thousands of Chinese students next year will mean gaping holes in their budgets, after a survey found that only a quarter of those intending to study in the UK were still going ahead.

Nearly 120,000 students from China currently study at British universities, with their tuition fees a key source of income. But the survey by the British Council found that only one in four students said they were still going ahead with plans to study abroad next year.

Of the 8,000 Chinese students surveyed, 22% said they were likely or very likely to cancel their plans, while 39% said they were unsure. Just 27% said they were not likely to cancel.

One senior university leader told the Guardian that international enrolments at many UK institutions could fall by 50% to 100% in the next academic year.

Universities UK – which represents 137 UK institutions – said it was requesting increased funding and other emergency support from the government, in return for a temporary cap on domestic student recruitment and cuts within the sector.

In Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed she would fully pass on any bailout funds coming from the UK government to Scottish universities, and that talks were ongoing over further support. “The scale of the financial crisis facing universities is well understood by ministers,” the Scottish first minister said.

“There are some very complex discussions we need to have. We know exactly what the universities have been asking for and will continue to have those discussions,” Sturgeon added.

Universities Scotland, which represents the sector, said a 50% drop in international students would cost its members £435m in 2020-21.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said while only one in five students on British campuses were from overseas, their fees amounted to nearly a third of all tuition income and close to £7bn in total.

Source: UK universities fear huge budget holes as Chinese students stay home | Education | The Guardian

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