Overseas recruitment continuing to suffer, suggests UUK report (UK)

 By John Morgan

Fewer British universities are hitting their overseas student recruitment targets this year in the wake of the government’s visa changes and Indian student numbers have again been hit, according to Universities UK.

UUK today published a report on the impact of “unprecedented” policy changes – ranging from funding to visa changes – titled The Funding Environment for Universities: An Assessment.

The report offers a review of previously published data from sources such as the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, as well as the results of surveys of vice-chancellors and universities.

UUK warns: “Potential downside risks to student recruitment from domestic and international sources will have a significant impact on the ability of institutions to maintain and improve the quality of teaching and research infrastructure.”

On overseas students, UUK notes that “the number of first year non-EU students decreased marginally in 2011, contrasting with strong growth in recent years”.

The report also contains results from a UUK survey of institutions on overseas student recruitment, conducted in January 2013.

It says: “Institutions were asked whether or not they met their international student recruitment targets for the present and previous academic years. Of those who set targets, the percentage of respondents who successfully met them fell from 59 per cent in 2011–12 to 44 per cent in 2012–13.”

Higher Education Statistics Agency figures have already shown a 35 per cent fall in the number of Indian students starting courses in the UK in 2011-12, the report notes.

UUK adds of 2012-13: “When asked about changes in the number of new entrants from particular countries, the most frequently-referenced country from which demand had remained strong was China, whilst the most referenced fall in enrolments came from India.”

On home and EU students, the report says that mature student numbers (aged 21 and over) fell 4 per cent in 2012-13.

It adds that for home and EU students “overall recruitment to higher education institutions in England for 2012–13 was 9 per cent lower than anticipated. This shortfall may in part be due to institutions’ concerns about penalties for under or over recruitment.”

In interviews with vice-chancellors, UUK found common themes emerged. One was that vice-chancellors found “the 2012–13 recruitment cycle gave them a clearer indication of their market position within the higher education market, and who their main competitors are”.

On admissions for next year, 2013-14, vice-chancellors reported “continued marketing drives and consideration of financial incentives to target particular segments of students”.

There was also “anticipation that competition will be much sharper this year to attract students. The move to deregulation of ABB+ equivalent students is not expected to create major changes for some institutions, whereas for others it has meant developing a more in-depth understanding of the interaction between their student number controlled places and deregulated numbers”.

On pay, the report says: “There has been significant pay restraint in the university sector (delivered through the national bargaining apparatus) since 2009, with a cumulative increase of just 2.4 per cent compared to inflation of 11.8 per cent since August 2008. Annual trade union pay claims during this period have ranged between 5.4 per cent and 8 per cent.”

Source: Times Higher Education http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/overseas-recruitment-continuing-to-suffer-suggests-uuk-report/2004355.article