This new report from the Data Team at Enroly analyses the state of international student arrivals in September 2022 compared with 2021.
The data is based on a sample of around 60,000 international students on the Enroly platform, taken from a subset of nearly 30 institutions.
The picture shows a significant decrease in late arrivals year-on-year, as UKVI concessions introduced during Covid-19 that allow international students to study from overseas until they obtain their visa, came to an end in June 2022.
The rule changes may also have contributed to a significant increase in the deferral and withdrawal rate in September 2022, amid long visa waiting times.
Arrival: September 2021 and 2022
We looked at the percentages of international students with a CAS issued who were reporting arriving before or after their course start date in September 2021 and 2022.
There was very little year-on-year change in the percentage of students reporting arriving on or before their course date: 62.56% in 2021 versus 63.60% in 2022.
However, as evidenced by the graph below, the distribution of more exact times of arrival did vary significantly.
There were clear differences in the percentages of students arriving 28 days or more before their course start date, and those arriving within a week of their course.
Interestingly, the data suggests that late arrivals beyond 22 days or more were significantly reduced in 2022, likely in response to the tightening of UKVI rules permitting students to begin their studies remotely while waiting for a visa decision.
It’s important to note that significant improvements to the Enroly CAS Shield system are also likely to be a factor in the reduction in late arrivals across the two cohorts, with 12 months of system improvements streamlining the CAS and visa process offering much greater assistance to Enroly partner universities when compared to the previous year.
But a concerning trend is the potential impact the UKVI decision has had on deferral and withdrawal rates.
The total number of students with offers who intended to withdraw or defer has more than doubled from 0.31% in September 2021 to 0.81% in September 2022, a change that would point to thousands of students missing out on taking up their university place in 2022 across the full international cohort in the UK.
CAS-to-visa waiting times
We reported on CAS and visa waiting times throughout the summer, with our data showing lengthy visa backlogs in June and July and significant market variations on waiting times for those receiving a visa in August.
The graph below now presents a full picture of the intake, showing how waiting times stabilised for those receiving visas in late July and August, but increased again slightly in September, pointing to possible delays during crunch the arrival period.
The data also shows the average and median turnaround times from CAS-to-visa issuance in calendar days, highlighted in the table below:
Significant market variations are part of the picture in the data, although differences in visa waiting times by market are less stark than the specific period we looked at in the summer.
Of the ten largest markets, Chinese students had the shortest wait from CAS to visa, in an average just 25.2 calendar days across the whole intake. Bangladeshi students waited 43 days on average.
It is interesting to see how policy decisions from UKVI, and post-Covid market changes, continue to be reflected in trends across the sector.
It’s impossible to look at arrival and visa data without also considering market shifts, with large increases in both overall international student numbers (increasing by an estimated 71.82% across our sample), and with significant changes in particular markets.
The table below presents this data, with standout changes in the number of Nigerian and Pakistani students coming to study in the UK, up by 141% and 172% respectively.
Given the significant year-on-year changes by market, these developments will affect the CAS-to-visa times, and possibly contribute to an evolving arrival picture too.
Watch this space for our coming report on the topic of dependants in the September 2022 intake, which we’ll be publishing in November in-line with the release of new functionality that allows users to more easily filter by dependants information in CAS Shield.
Can Enroly CAS Shield transform CAS, visa and arrival at your university? Absolutely. Come along to our next webinar on 7 December for a mini system demo and overview of the platform's Data and Insights functionality. Book your place >