Indian students receive most UK study visas in 2023

24 Nov 2023

New data out by the UK government shows students from India received the majority of study visas in 2022/23, as the total number of visas granted rose by an overall 2%. In addition, students and their dependents accounted for 39% of long-term non-EU immigrants to Britain in the year ending June 2023, says the Office for National Statistics. This represents a rise of 58,000 students compared to the year before and is predominantly driven by a higher proportion of students bringing dependents into the country. However, as of January next year, most students will no longer be permitted to bring dependents under new rules to slash net migration.

It's estimated that overall net migration added 672,000 to Britain's population, a 10% fall from the previous year. That said, last year's estimate was upwardly revised by nearly 140,000 people, leading a number of Tory MPs to urge the government to take further action to curb legal routes into the country. According to Home Secretary James Cleverly, the figures are a "testament to both our world-leading university sector and our ability to use our immigration system to prioritise the skills we need".

International students' contribution to Britain

Assistant director for policy and global engagement at Universities UK International, Harry Anderson, said: "In any debate about international student numbers and figures, it is important first and foremost we recognise the vast contribution international students make to the UK; not just economically, but culturally and socially to towns and cities across the UK." He added: "Politically expedient rhetoric on migration isn't just seen by voters in the UK, but by potential international students, who are considering the UK but may feel unwelcome from this – thereby depriving ourselves of huge assets to our campuses and wider communities."

UK study visa stats

International student growth, not including dependents, seems to be flattening following last year's post-pandemic surges, according to the latest Home Office data. The UK granted 486,107 study visas to main applicants in the year ending September, 2% more than the previous year. Indian students remained the leading nationality this year, receiving 133,237 study visas, a 5% rise over the year before. They were followed by students from China, who received 22% of all study visas, 108,978, representing a 7% decline. In third place were Nigerian students, with 51,071 visas, followed by Pakistan and the United States in the top five student nationalities.