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Postgraduate applications increase as University steps up courtship of international students

PGT applicants up 149% since 2019

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

Photo: Nareeta Martin on Unsplash

According to data analysed by The Gaudie, the number of potential postgraduate students applying to study at the University has risen in recent years, increasing to more than 35,000 in 2023


Per a Freedom of Information request, the University received 14,659 PGT applications during the 2018/2019 financial year. By comparison, in 2022/2023, the number of PGT applicants swelled to 36,589; an increase of 149% over five years. 

This surge in applicants has not been matched by the number of prospective undergraduates students, which have actually decreased since 2018. Back then, 20,178 undergraduates applied to study at the University, compared to 19,950 last year.

It appears that the University has increasingly turned to winter admissions in a bid to corner the lucrative international postgraduate market.

Current tuition rates for international postgraduate students range from £20,800 to £31,000 for a one year degree, compared to an average of £11,000 or £12,000 for UK students. 

In 2018, 1,813 potential students applied for the January 2019 intake. By comparison, in 2022, 11,498 students applied for entrance in January 2023. 

That’s an increase of more than 500% in just four years. However, could the boom time be coming to an end?

Despite the increasing numbers of applicants and offer holders, the current rate of postgraduate admissions have not generated enough income to keep the University under budget. 

A lull in the number of international postgraduate admissions this autumn saw the University fall into a £15 million hole, sparking alarm bells among senior management. Calm was urged at a University-wide staff meeting in late October, despite being preceded by shock news that the modern language department was at risk of closure. 

Publicly, University management have cited worldwide financial instability and restrictive immigration laws for the stagnation. 

Addressing staff in October, Principal George Boyne noted that many international students were opting to study in Australia or Canada rather than the UK. 

Professor Boyne went on to call new immigration laws an “artificial restriction on international student numbers,” placing blame on the UK government’s “somewhat negative signals” toward overseas students.

Speaking to The Gaudie about the increase in potential applicants, a University spokesperson said: “We are proud to have students from more than 130 different counties attending the University, it benefits our teaching and research output and is one of the reasons we are consistently ranked among the best in the world for international outlook. Inclusivity, as well as internationalisation, is at the heart of our Aberdeen 2040 strategy, and this includes a commitment to secure the highest standards of equality, diversity, and inclusion alongside our commitment to provide an international education to learners from around the world.”

 “The University is currently renewing its focus and approach to international markets, in response to the significant challenges facing the higher education sector in the UK.”

Data for the most recent intake cycles have not yet been published. 


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