At 43,175 enrolled at higher educational institutions at the time of the 2021 census, Indian students are at the helm of the international student population in England and Wales.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which recently released its census analysis for the overseas students category based on the responses of the online census conducted in March 2021, found that India made up 11.6 per cent of the non UK-born student population. This was followed closely by China at 11.2 per cent with 41,810 Chinese students enrolled in the two regions of the United Kingdom.
The ONS notes: “India (11.6 per cent), China (11.2 per cent), Romania (9.5 per cent) and Nigeria (5.3 per cent) were the top four individual countries of birth of international students.
“A third of the international student population was in London (33.9 per cent).”
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Indian students were also among the most likely to be employed, at 11.9 per cent after Romania at 21.4 per cent. While a majority of Indian students recorded English as their main language, Telugu, Urdu, Malayalam, Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil and Marathi were among the Indian languages recorded in the census.
The ONS said it defines an international student as someone who was "a usual resident in England and Wales and meets all the following criteria: in full-time education; non-UK-born; non-UK passport holder; aged 17 years or over upon most recent arrival in the UK; and aged 18 years or over on Census Day".
“International students in higher education (HE) are an important sub-group of the population in England and Wales. Studying is one of the main reasons people migrate to the UK. International students contribute to the income of universities through tuition fees, as well as the economy of communities in which they live,” the ONS said.
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In November 2022, UK Home Office data collated by the ONS revealed that Indian students had overtaken Chinese as the largest group of foreign students studying across the UK for the first time. Those figures co-relate with the census data, which focuses on the regions of England and Wales and also covers further characteristics such as country of birth, employment and housing.