Research Report into UK Student Visitors (Migration and Border Analysis, Home Office Science)
Student visitors requiring a visa: Successful applicants
About successful applicants
The top five nationalities in the study period were Russian, Chinese, Turkish, Saudi Arabian, and Indian, making up around two-thirds of successful applicants.
Analysis of visa nationals is based on visa application data rather than arrivals data, therefore a minority of successful applicants may have been granted a visa but have not then used it to enter the UK.
Table 5: Nationalities of successful applicants for a student visit visa, 1 June 2011–31 May 2012
||Number in sample
||% in sample
||Number in population
||% in population
The sample was designed so the nationalities of applicants in the sample were representative of the population as a whole.
One-quarter of successful applicants were married or in a civil partnership, almost one in five (19%) had dependent children and almost one-half (44%) were employed in their country of nationality. Around one-half (49%) of successful applicants in the study period were students in their country of nationality. Just seven per cent were not working or unemployed in their country of nationality.
Turkish successful applicants were more likely to be single (87%) and to be unemployed (16%), and less likely to have dependent children (8%) than successful applicants of other nationalities.
Saudi Arabian successful applicants were also more likely to be unemployed (18%) than successful applicants overall. Chinese applicants were more likely to be students in their country of nationality (70%) than successful applicants overall (49%) and were more likely to be single (87%).
The majority (91%) did not have family or friends in the UK and hardly any had a UK National Insurance number (<1%). Saudi Arabian applicants (12%) were slightly more likely than successful applicants overall to have family or friends in the UK.
The employed applicants reported a wide range of occupations but almost one-quarter (23%) were teachers. Net monthly income for employed applicants ranged from £27 to £14,982 a month. The median income was £1,000 a month, but 17 per cent of applicants earned more than £3,000 a month.
Most Chinese (71%) and Russian (68%) successful applicants were women and most Saudi Arabian (80%) and Indian (74%) applicants were men.
Proposed visit to the UK
Successful applicants reported their intended travel dates to and from the UK on their application forms. The median length was 29 days. Around 11 per cent of applicants proposed to stay between five and six months.
Length of courses
The median course length was 27 days, consistent with the reported median intended length of stay in the UK of 29 days.
Saudi Arabian and Turkish applicants were proposing to take longer courses than other successful applicants (median 57 days and 53 days respectively, compared with 27 days for applicants overall). Their proposed length of stay in the UK was also longer (68 and 55 days respectively, compared with 29 days for applicants overall). Russian applicants’ median trip length was shorter than successful applicants overall (20 days compared with 29 days).
A few applicants (11 cases) reported course lengths of more than six months. Some of these applicants were undertaking longer courses for which only part of their studies were in the UK.
Types of courses
Almost two-thirds of successful applicants proposed to study English language (64%), a similar proportion as the non-visa sample (62%). Around seven per cent were coming for summer school or exchange programmes, with seven per cent studying degree programmes. Around six per cent were studying business courses and nine per cent were studying other skilled courses or maritime training. A further four per cent were studying recreational courses, e.g French pastry making.
Whilst the majority of Saudi Arabian, Chinese and Russian applicants were coming to study English language (93%, 87% and 86% respectively), less than one-half of Chinese applicants (49%) and hardly any Indians (2%) were coming for this reason. Chinese applicants were the most likely to be attending summer school or exchange programmes (23%), whilst Indians were the most likely to be studying degrees (23%) or maritime courses (21%).
Over two-thirds (69%) were attending courses where accommodation was provided.
Table 6: Courses studied by visa nationals
|English – general
|English – intensive
|English – specialist
|English – IELTS
|Teaching English as a foreign language
In a similar fashion to non-visa nationals, only limited information was available on the qualifications the courses would lead to. Most successful applicants stated on their visa application form they would get a certificate or would improve their English rather than the qualification or level of course they were proposing to study. In addition, it was not always clear whether the certificate was for attending the course or for meeting a required level at the end of the course. From the limited information available it was found that 10 per cent were proposing to come to the UK for a degree level course (NQF levels 6 to 8). This included three per cent studying at postgraduate level (NQF level 7).
Figure 4: Level of course (according to the National Qualifications Framework) recorded by successful visa applicants.
Institutions, sponsorship and accreditation
The majority of successful applicants (90%) proposed to study at an institution on the Tier 4 Register. This included two per cent proposing to study at legacy institutions and eight per cent at A-Rated institutions.
Figure 5: Tier 4 Register status of institutions attended by successful visa national student visitors
A further nine per cent proposed to study at institutions that were not on the Tier 4 Register but were accredited by Home Office approved organisations. Less than one per cent were attending institutions that had a status which could not be not determined.
The median course length and trip length was longer for successful applicants who proposed to study at institutions with HTS status than for applicants who proposed to study at institutions without HTS status (trip length of 29.5 days compared with 20 days, course length 28 days compared with 20 days).
There were no differences between successful applicants proposing to study at institutions with HTS status and those proposing to study at institutions without HTS status when looking at type of course (English language course compared with other type of course), course fees, or having been refused a visa before.
Additionally, one per cent of student visitors were attending institutions that had their Tier 4 status revoked prior to the time of application. A further five per cent were attending institutions that have since had their Tier 4 status revoked. However, in none of these instances was the sponsor licence revoked for a breach of sponsorship obligations.
Costs related to study in the UK
The median course fee for successful applicants was £1,457 (range £0 to £57,378). Almost 14 per cent of applicants were paying over £4,000 in fees.
The median course fees reported by Russian (£1,120) and Chinese (£1,002) successful applicants were lower than for successful applicants overall (£1,457). The fees reported by Saudi Arabians (£2,465) were higher, but this is likely to reflect the longer length of their proposed courses.
Over one-half (57%) of applicants stated that their course fees included accommodation. Russian (74%) and Chinese (68%) applicants were more likely to be on courses where accommodation was included in the fees, but this was less likely to be the case for Indians (23%). Almost one-half of courses being studied included some or all living expenses (such as meals). Russian applicants (55%) were slightly more likely than all successful applicants (45%) to have living expenses included in the fees.
Most (72%) of the successful applicants had paid some costs towards their course before submitting their visa application (median £553). Chinese (65%), Turkish (55%) and Saudi Arabian (55%) applicants were less likely than other applicants (72%) to have paid some costs already at the visa application stage, and Russians (87%) more likely to have done so.
Applicants were also asked what the cost of coming to the UK was to them personally. The median cost was £1,400 (range £0 to £34,000). Over one-fifth (22%) stated it would not cost them anything, because someone else was paying the costs, e.g. a family member or employer.
Less than 1 in 5 (19%) successful applicants reported having studied in the UK before.
However, many applicants had visited the UK or other countries before. Almost one-third (31%) reported having travelled to the UK within the previous 10 years. Just under three-quarters of these trips (72%) were for study purposes.
Turkish (12%) and Chinese (5%) successful applicants were much less likely than successful applicants overall (19%) to have studied in the UK before. They were also less likely to have travelled to the UK in the past 10 years (Turkish 16% and Chinese 12%, compared with 31% of successful applicants overall).
One-quarter of successful applicants indicated they had been issued a visa to the UK in the past 10 years. Just over three-quarters of these visas (76%) were for study. Indian successful applicants were almost twice as likely to have been granted a visa to the UK in the past 10 years than successful applicants overall (47% compared with 25%).
Just under one-quarter (23%) of successful applicants had a previous successful visa application recorded on the Central Reference System (CRS). Of those who had a previous successful application recorded, most had just one application recorded (14%), but a small proportion had between 3 and 10 successful applications recorded (4%). Around 59 per cent of these linked applications were for study purposes.
Few successful applicants had adverse immigration histories:
- less than one per cent reported having been refused entry to the UK in the past ten years;
- seven per cent reported having been refused a visa (for travel to any country); and
- less than one per cent reported having been deported from any country in the past ten years.
Applicants from three of the top five countries of nationality (Turkey 4%, China 3%, Saudi Arabia 3%) were less likely than successful applicants overall (7%) to have been refused a visa for travel to any country.
Part 4 of 5
Part 1 – Summary
Part 2 – Introduction
Part 3 – Non-visa nationals
Part 4 – Visa nationals: successful applicants
Part 5 – Visa nationals: unsuccessful applicants