First year international students contribute an estimated £214 million to the economy of CambridgeGuillaume Périgois/UNSPLASH

Universities have found that the number of students from the EU has decreased by 50%, with figures from the UCAS showing a 43% drop in applications from EU students compared to last year.

As of August 2021, undergraduate students from the EU are no longer eligible for home fee status, and most of them will pay the same rates as other international students.

Applications to Cambridge University from EU countries have been declining since 2016. According to the statistics for the 2020 admissions cycle, only 10.7% of total applicants came from EU countries, compared to 12.7% from the previous year.

Despite this, universities have seen a 14% increase in applications from non-EU international students — resulting in a 6% decrease in overall applications from international students.

David Richardson, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, said that the number of international students at UEA “dipped” during the height of the pandemic. However, while the number of EU students halved, the number of non-EU students has returned to pre-COVID levels.

According to the Higher Education Policy Institute, first year international students contribute £28.8 billion to the national economy. For the Cambridge economy, first year international students from the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University contribute an estimated £214 million.

In a survey conducted by ‘’ in June 2020, 84% of EU students claimed that they would “definitely not” study in the UK if they had to pay the same as non-EU international students.


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Despite this, the proportion of Cambridge offers made to EU students, as well as the number of acceptances, have remained consistent.

The government aims to increase the number of international students in the UK.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education has described international students, including EU nationals, as being “a vital and valued part of our higher education sector”.

“We have seen a significant rise in international students in recent years,” she said. “Our recently-bolstered International Education Strategy aims to build on this, with an ambition to sustainably increase the number of international higher education students hosted in the UK to at least 600,000 per year by 2030.”