International students, the fast growing educational demographic
Generation Y (also called Millennials) are the largest demographic to pursue higher education, with over 45% of them joining a university before age 20. However, is this surge in university applications just because of a generational shift? Or are there some external factors that we should be looking at?
The largest educational demographic is also the most culturally diverse. In regards to racial ethnicity, there are more non-white Millennials as most were born during a period of heightened immigration.
There are less British born Millennials than any other generation, however when combined with foreign ethnicities, they are set to become the largest demographic.
It is believed that 20% of all UK university students come from overseas. 6% of which arrive from the EU and 14% from the rest of the world. Astonishingly however, 46% of students studying at postgraduate level in the UK are from outside of EU.
Over 20% of international students come from China, That comes to 91,215 Chinese people arriving every year to the UK to pursue higher education. The number is continuing to grow. Interestingly, there are more Chinese undergraduate students than there are students from the EU at all.
One of the main reasons for this influx in Chinese students is greater access to education in China thanks to rising wages and workers’ rights. Many students follow their dreams of high quality education by attempting to join one of the 9 top universities, 4 of which are conveniently located in the United Kingdom and the rest in the US; well known for its strict immigration laws.
However, the UK is also set to receive stricter immigration laws. Prime minister Theresa May has decreed that international student numbers be cut by half, meaning that a surge in Chinese students and a widely diverse demographic could quickly revert back into a Generation X scenario of predominantly White-British university students.
Students have been told the visa system will be liberalised and that they now face stricter conditions. Many Indian students have spoken out who are studying in the UK and find it unfair that the rules have been put in place after making the financial commitment to move here. Combined with Brexit, this would corelate with the drastic decrease of Indian-Pakistani university applications in the UK (35% decrease in 2016 alone).
Despite this, the number of foreign-born Millennials continue to rise, particularly from English speaking countries such as Northern Ireland (24% increase in applications) and South Africa (12.5% increase).
Does this mean that Millennial’s desire for education outweigh the threat of governmental sanctions? We will see as the trends continue.