India is the top country of origin for international students studying in England and Wales, official figures show.
Analysis of Census 2021 data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Monday (17) showed 43,175 Indians were studying on campus across England and Wales two years ago, accounting for 11.56 per cent of the total international student population of 373,600.
India was closely followed by China which sent 41,810 students in 2021, making up 11.2 per cent of overseas students in England and Wales.
There were 7,995 Pakistani students when the most recent 10-yearly census was conducted and the group was in the ninth position in terms of the proportion of international students.
Britain defines an international student as a foreign passport holder involved in full-time education, having arrived in the UK aged 17 years or more. Overseas students aged 18 or more on the census day were accounted for in the figures.
There were 2.46 million students aged 18 years or more studying in England and Wales with 70.7 per cent of them born in the UK. This meant nearly one out of three students holds a foreign passport.
Non-European Union nations sent more students to England and Wales (19.6 per cent of all students) than the EU did (9.7 per cent).
London is the most popular destination for international students with 33.9 per cent of them studying and living in the capital.
It was followed by the South East (12 per cent) and the West Midlands (9.4 per cent).
English was the preferred main language spoken by the largest proportion of international students in England and Wales (36.0 per cent). This is followed by Chinese (nine per cent), Romanian (8.1 per cent) and Arabic (four per cent).
Telugu was the most preferred Indian language spoken by foreign students in England and Wales, although it accounted for just 1.29 per cent of all foreign students there.
Urdu and Malayalam are each spoken by a little more than one per cent of the foreign students.
While containing net immigration into the UK has been a hot political issue in the UK, experts warn that any reduction in the number of foreign students would have an impact on the revenue generated by British universities. Fees from foreign students help the universities cross-subsidise education for local students.
Prominent British Asian peer Lord Karan Bilimoria, who is also the chancellor of the University of Birmingham, described international students as “a huge asset” for the country.
“They enrich the experience of our domestic students and universities,” he told the Indian Express.