International Students - What Happened This Year and What Is Likely to Happen Next Year

Thursday 24th March 2022, 11am – 12.05pm


Speakers: Martin Blakey (CEO – Unipol Student Homes) and Matt Durnin (Principal - NOUS Group).

In May 2021, we undertook a Forum event looking at what might happen this year and what the longer term recruitment trends were and in September of the same year a National Code briefing was issued entitled International Students and Factors Affecting Accommodation in the UK by Matt Durnin, then head of Global Insights at the British Council.

We have invited Matt back to reflect on what had happened in 2021-2022 and how the trends he predicted have worked out and where future student accommodation demand is likely to come from.

This will be a thought-provoking and stimulating Forum event lining up international admission for summer 2022.

Click here to view the recording of this event.


Martin Blakey – An Overview of the Sector:

  • New guidance has been uploaded to the National Code website on assisting students from Ukraine and Russia. You can view this here.
  • We surveyed largest top 10 providers about their approaches:
    • students wanted recognition and the space to talk through a things
    • providers are supporting residents with being able to purchase food/sanitary products by providing weekly vouchers
    • providing support and reaching out to universities for their support
    • discussing future rent payment plans and options
  • Possible approaches include:
    • Reviewing on a case-by-case basis
    • Cancelling contracts if students wish to return home
    • Extending stays free of charge over the summer
  • It is important to work closely with the educational institutions as there are many other aspects they can help students with: supporting students with fees, support services, hardship funds, academic flexibility.
  • University of Lincoln may have led the way with an initial support fund. They are offering a package of support for students and academics who would like to transfer their studies to Lincoln including a full tuition fee waiver and accommodation bursary.
  • St Mary's University are also offering postgraduate scholarships.
  • The new National Code for Private Providers is now operational from 20th March, you can view this here.

  • The Office for Students have laucnhed a call for evidence on Experience of International Students in England in Integrating and Receiving Fulfilling Experience Whilst Studying.


Matt Durnin - International Student Recruitment

You can view Matt's full Presentation here.

  • International enrolment growth in the major study destinations has been overwhelming driven by China and India. Growth has been driven by the Chinese and Indian markets, which in turn has driven universities that are heavily reliant on either Indian or Chinese students.
  • USA is talking seriously about an international education strategy.
  • The market share amongst the Big 4 (USA, UK, Canada, Australia) was shifting before the pandemic, mostly due to policy shifts.
  • The British Council surveyed students: How likely are you to cancel or delay your plans to study overseas for the 2020/21 academic year?

  • Postgraduates showed much stronger intentions to cancel or delay than undergeraduates but in reality, there was a sharp decline in new undergraduate enrolments (in both Russell group and non Russell group institutions).

  • The Russell Group institutions were held up by an increase in Chinese students that were enrolling. There were limited options on where to study for Chinese students (Australia borders closed, US looking less attractive). China was a huge source of decline for non Russell groups.

  • There was a tremendous growth of postgraduate intake, much sharper growth for non  Russell Group institutions than Russell Group insitutions. The largest growth was from India and largest decline from China for non Russell Group institutions.

  • After a sustained surge in 2020, search intensity for ‘online degree’ has fallen off sharply. Digital delivery will prevail where minority preferences are strong and majority preferences are flexible. We are likely to see a shift in the mode of delivery due to climate change and equality of access.
  • Recovery for the UK market has been rapid so far and UK visa polices are attractive, but competitors are back and applications data likely inflated.
  • Growth is shifting towards India which is a very different proposition than China.
  • Online experiences are not highly rated by students, but they may nonetheless become a permanent fixture in HE.