The number of international students at a Sussex university has soared to its highest figure in 15 years, it has been revealed.
A Freedom of Information Request to the University of Brighton found that the number of non-UK pupils at the institution increased from 2167 in 2019-20 to 2,555 this academic year – a rise of nearly 20% in just 12 months and the biggest figure since 2006.
It comes at a time when the university, which currently homes more than 18,000 students across its four campuses in both Brighton and Eastbourne, had previously seen international student figures decrease in four out of the previous five years.
A spokesperson for the university said: “A core strategic objective within the University’s Internationalisation Strategic Plan 2018-2021 was to increase the international diversity of our student population.
“As such, there have been enhanced efforts to achieve this goal and this is reflected in the growth in numbers.”
The statistics come as somewhat of a surprise given effects of both the coronavirus pandemic, and the uncertainty that has arisen as a result of Brexit.
Whilst figures specifically for EU students were unable to be obtained for this academic year (2020/21), the previous period showed that 899 students were from countries in the EU, which, interestingly, continues the downward trend for students attending the university from the region.
This is because for five successive years from 2019/20 and dating back to 2015/16, 899, 975, 1,110, 1,115 and 1,175 students respectively attended the institution – an ongoing decrease that highlights the fall of EU students most likely due to next year being the first academic year EU students will no longer pay UK-student fees.
This means the European cohort will therefore not only be worse off financially compared to previous years and relative to native UK pupils, but they’ll also be challenged with having to deal with stricter visa and immigration implementations, as well as being ineligible to participate in the popular Erasmus scheme.
Eastbourne is one of the four campuses part of the University of Brighton
Nevertheless, such figures demonstrate the influence of students choosing Brighton from outside Europe, with China and India continuing to top statistics.
The rise of non-UK pupils is a trend that hasn’t come as a shock to third year international and architectural student, Zuzanna Murzyn.
She explained: “I’m not surprised numbers have increased.
“I know that there is a great deal of care, time and resources spent on international students at the university in general.
“After I accepted the offer from them, everyone was very helpful with solving issues like housing when I didn’t get the halls of residence, as well as inviting me for an orientation programme for international students to help us settle in.”