The latest live data from Enroly Data Insights shows that UK universities are considerably ahead of the game for the September 2023 intake when compared to last year on several key metrics. Deposits, CAS issuance, and visa issuance are all up overall when compared to 2022.
However, these wider trends are not reflected in the two of the largest markets, with the data showing that CAS issuance for Indian and Nigerian students is down compared to this point last year. This means that observers with eyes for these markets may be missing out on the wider picture for the sector at large.
The overall figures are surprising in the context of reports that UKVI were exploring with institutions possible reasons why CAS and visa issuance volumes for September were lower than expected back in July.
With more than a quarter of international students arriving in the UK via the Enroly platform, this latest dataset comprises well in excess of 100,000 international offers, giving a comprehensive indication of the state of play for the September 2023 intake nationally.
The big picture year-on-year
Overall, international student deposits have increased by 11.67%, the number of CAS issued is up 11.36%, and visas are up a whopping 62% when compared to this point in 2022.
Platform data shows that universities are processing students earlier and have adapted workflows to better take advantage of the six-month CAS issuance window: one explanation for the relatively much increased visa numbers. Following widely reported visa delays in 2022, CAS-to-visa issuance rates are also currently more than 8% quicker than at this point last year, another factor that will be impacting visas issued.
Despite anecdotal reports of further increases in students bringing dependants with rule changes for January 2024 looming, the percentage of students declaring dependants has remained high but largely stable year on year, from 10.97% in September 2022 (figures for full intake), dropping slightly to 9.38% this year (figures for intake to date).
Insights by market
When looking at the latest data at market level, interesting trends emerge, especially in India and Nigeria.
While deposits are slightly up for Indian students at 4.19%, CAS issuance is down by -8.38%, a marked difference to the overall figure of 11.36%. The picture for Nigerian students shows an even starker decrease in numbers, with deposit and CAS issuance down by -4.02% and -15.35% respectively.
Reports into how the recent devaluation of the naira has left many Nigerian students struggling to find sufficient funds to cover their studies seems to be borne out in the numbers on CAS Shield.
As well as the reduced number of deposits and CAS issued, 170% more Nigerian students are in ‘closed/lost’ stages of the platform, suggesting that deferral and withdrawal rates may well also be on the increase this year.
Indeed, increased ‘closed/lost’ rates for both India and Nigeria also indicate that universities may also be working harder to ensure the right types of students are being progressed, and spending more time analysing compliance factors and student safety.
Despite the sluggish performance of Nigerian deposits, other countries in the top 10 largest markets are showing some stand out performance figures. Although Bangladeshi deposits are down -18.54%, this bucks a strong trend across the rest of South Asia, with the Pakistani (141%), Nepalese (225%), and Sri Lankan (52%) markets all showing strong growth.
Chinese, US and Ghanaian deposits are all also up considerably compared to this point in 2023.
A similar picture is reflected in the CAS issued stage, with Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lankan numbers all up markedly, and Canadian and Malaysian students entering the top 10 for CAS issued, and both showing significant increases year-on-year.
The percentage of students declaring that they are bringing dependants on CAS Shield has remained high but stable, dropping from 10.97% in September 2022 (figures for full intake), to 9.38% this year (figures of intake to date). In 2021 the figure was just 6.41%.
These figures seem to suggest that, at this point in the intake at least, policy changes on dependants due to come into effect in January 2024 have not yet impacted the dependants figures.
It is worth noting that students are not legally required to declare their intention to bring dependants to their chosen university, and therefore it is possible that high profile media coverage and government changes have spooked students into deciding not to declare dependants at this stage of the process.
For Nigerian students, where the dependants rates were particularly high in 2022 at 33% (figures for the full intake), the percentage of students declaring one or more dependants has dropped to just 20.74% at this point in 2023 (figures for the intake to date).
Enroly comment on the data
Enroly CEO and Co-Founder, Jeff Williams, said, ‘This is a fascinating dataset which sheds some much needed light on what has been an unusual intake.
‘Informal conversations with many of our partners have indicated that the key markets of India and Nigeria were down slightly, something shown in these latest figures. But it’s interesting to see the numbers demonstrate a brighter outlook overall at this stage of the intake.
‘I can’t wait to see how the data tracks throughout August, and how some of these trends take shape for the intake as a whole.’
We’ll report back on the latest numbers and insights in early September to demonstrate whether the trends in this report are reflective of short-term or longer-term factors.
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