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UK increases share of international higher education searches despite Brexit vote

Director of Insights Aaron Porter takes a closer look at students searches following the UK's decision to leave the EU


Hotcourses data, which supports over 23 million users to research international study each year, has seen a noticeable increase in international students looking to study in the United Kingdom since the vote to leave the European Union.


Comparing the four weeks in the run up to the referendum vote (May 26th - June 23rd) with the four weeks following the referendum (June 24th – July 21st), there has been an increase in the market share of searches to the UK from 27% of searches to 27.3%.


Searches to the USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand (May 26th – June 23rd 2016):


Searches to the USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand (June 24th – July 21st 2016):



While most commentators and reactions to the Brexit vote suggests that it is highly likely that this will lead to a perception that the UK is less welcoming, our data suggests there might be a short term increase.


This data draws on over 1,630,000 students who used the Hotcourses international website in the eight-week period from May 26th – July 21st looking at international study specifically for the USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.


From selected EU countries the UK saw the following change in market share (%):

Country 26 May - 23 June 24 June - July
Germany 43.1 42.9
France 41.6 46.5
Italy 47 48.1
Cyprus 53.2 58.6
Poland  51 50.4


Aaron Porter, Director of Insights, Hotcourses, said: “It may seem counter-intuitive, but this data gives us confidence that despite Brexit there could be a short term increase in applications both internationally and from the EU specifically. Many EU students may look to study in the UK within the next two years while they are still eligible for a tuition fee loan, before any new arrangements come into force, meaning we could see a pronounced increase before a fall.


"The drop in the pound against most major international currencies, including the Euro, will also make it cheaper for students looking to study in the UK helping to make it a more attractive destination.


"No doubt in the longer term looking to 2018 and beyond, as new arrangements for EU students wishing to study in the UK become clearer present a real challenge for UK universities, but in the short term the news may be more positive than initially expected.”

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About Author

Aaron Porter is the Hotcourses Director of Insights. His role is to delve into the data and statistics from across the Hotcourses websites and share this is as comment and thought pieces. He has worked extensively across the higher education sector. Outside of work he is a qualified football referee, a school governor in South London, plays the bagpipes and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.


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