Record number of EU students choosing Welsh universities

Students writing at a lecture

The number of European students choosing to study at Welsh universities has hit an all-time high - despite Brexit fears.

As of Friday, 1,350 EU students had been accepted on to courses across Wales - up 11% on the previous year.

Cardiff and Aberystwyth universities both received a record number of applications from EU students for this term.

This was despite some applications being withdrawn after the referendum.

But Aberystwyth said the number was "measurably fewer" than predicted before the referendum.

Image caption Aberystwyth University said the number of EU students that applied was "measurably fewer" than predicted

A spokeswoman said: "Brexit has undoubtedly been a factor in discouraging conversion, persuading applicants to look further at what options are available in their own countries."

"Undoubtedly, this will have an impact on our finances," she added.

There had been fears the decision to leave the European Union could affect student numbers and finances.

EU students currently pay the same tuition fees as Welsh domiciled students and are entitled to apply for the same grants to cover course fees to study here.

Following the referendum, about 100 EU students withdrew their applications to study at Aberystwyth and 25 from Cardiff.

However, it remains unclear how decisive the referendum outcome was to these figures, given EU students received their exam results at about the same time as the June vote.

Image caption Cardiff University saw a 20% increase on applications from EU students on last year

According to Ucas data, the number of EU students choosing to study in Wales continues to increase, following the trend seen across the whole of the UK in recent years.

The number of students from EU countries accepted to Welsh universities, not including those from the UK, increased by more than 50% since 2012.

As of 2 September, the number set to attend courses across the UK stood at 29,940 - 1,350 of which are enrolled in Wales.

Cardiff University said Brexit had led to "little impact" so far on its finances, with 2,319 applications made for this term - a 20% increase since 2014/2015.

Universities Wales said the rise in overseas students could be partly down to the student experience in Wales.

Overall student satisfaction hit a record high this year, with 86% of students saying they were happy with their course.

Universities Wales spokeswoman Olivia Jones said: "This commitment to delivering excellent learning and teaching will undoubtedly attract students from across the UK, the EU and beyond."

University of South Wales, Bangor and Glyndwr Universities all said they could not confirm how many EU students would be enrolled on courses when term starts this autumn.

Students are able to apply until 20 September for courses for this academic year, with acceptance numbers changing on a daily basis as clearing continues.

'Too early'

Bangor University said only time would tell if uncertainty surrounding the referendum would have an impact on the behaviour of students and prospective staff.

A spokesman said: "The majority of the recruitment activity for 2016 entry was carried out before the Brexit vote, and we expect the majority of our existing EU students will have completed their degree programmes with us by the time Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is invoked and the subsequent negotiations with other member states is concluded."

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