International student recruitment from Europe: the road to recovery

International student recruitment from Europe: the road to recovery

European students have historically made up around a third of all the international students in the UK. They make vital contributions to campuses and courses across the country, but following the UK’s exit from the European Union, the fundamental assumptions which underpin the flow of European students coming to study at UK universities have changed

Most European students wishing to start a course of study in the UK now require visas and no longer have access to domestic fee levels or tuition fee loans, dramatically changing the UK’s proposition as a destination of choice for European students.

This report, which is a collaboration between Universities UK International (UUKi) and Studyportals, investigates the current state of European student recruitment to the UK for degree study, utilises student search behaviour data to forecast how these changes will likely be borne out over the coming academic years, and provides recommendations for the UK HE sector and government to protect and develop European student recruitment.


The Report includes recommendations for government and universities, including:

  • To recognise Europe as a target region in any future refresh of the government’s International Education Strategy
  • To support and promote other education internationalisation activities and initiatives which can provide a cross-cutting benefit to student recruitment, such as focusing on the strategic importance of inward and outward student mobility, and the significant opportunities that exist in UK transnational education provision and online and distance learning
  • To address practical barriers to student mobility, including reducing visa costs and addressing restricted visa routes post-Erasmus
  • To build the evidence base on international graduate outcomes, including those of European students who are using the Graduate route

This is the third in the UUKi report series focusing on the UK’s international student recruitment outlook and how it can improve its global position, with the first part published in 2020, and the second part in 2021.

Published 01 December 2022