Leap in number of UAE students offered places at British universities

In total, 1,710 people applying from the Emirates were offered places this year, a 17 per cent increase on 2022

New figures show the number of non-EU international students accepted to UK universities fell by 0.9 per cent. Getty Images
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There has been a substantial rise in the number of UAE students accepted into British universities this year, bucking the international trend.

Newly released figures show the number of international students from outside the EU who were accepted fell by 0.9 per cent overall, to 61,470 this year from 62,200 in 2022.

But 1,710 people applying from the UAE were offered places in 2023, an increase of 17 per cent from the 1,460 a year previously.

The number has almost tripled since 2014, when 620 people applying from the UAE were offered places at British universities.

The rise in the number of UAE students this year also bucks the UK national trend, with fewer school leavers securing a place on a higher education course.

A total of 270,350 British 18 year olds had been accepted on to a course 28 days after students received their A-level results.

This figure is down 1.8 per cent on last year's 275,390 but up 12.9 per cent on 2019, the summer before the pandemic, when it was 239,460,

The number of 18 year olds from the most disadvantaged areas in the UK accepted also fell slightly, from 31,900 in 2022 to 31,090 this year.

But it was up 19.5 per cent on 2019 when 26,010 school leavers of that age from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in the UK were accepted on to a course.

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The data shows a record number of British 18 year olds secured a place at a university or college through clearing 28 days after A-level results day.

Clearing is available to students who do not meet the conditions of their offer on A-level results day, as well as those who did not receive any offers.

Students who have changed their mind about what or where they wish to study and those who have applied outside the normal application window can also use the process.

Overall, 38,140 school leavers aged 18 from the UK secured a place through clearing, up 14.6 per cent on last year's 33,280.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) has said growing numbers of students are using clearing to switch courses despite having secured their original first choice.

Sander Kristel, interim chief executive at Ucas, said: "In the past, clearing was perceived as just being a process to support students who didn't meet their offer to get a place at a remaining course.

"This couldn't be further from the truth – this year we saw a record number of students secure a place at one of the 30,000 courses available.

"We've also seen record numbers of students exercising choice later in the cycle, revisiting their options for a range of reasons personal to them."

He added: "For me, today's numbers show that we need to continue our collective efforts in closing the gap in participation for those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "It's great to see students using the clearing system to shop around for the courses that best suit them.

"The part of the Ucas data that does worry us, however, is that there has been a decline in the number of disadvantaged 18 year olds going to university compared to last year.

"While this has to be set in the context that it is still an increase compared to 2019, we really do need the trajectory to continue to go in the right direction."

Updated: September 21, 2023, 1:57 PM