Aston head Alec Cameron says 50 per cent fall in overseas enrolment revenue is ‘not pessimistic’

Many UK universities are braced for a fall in international student numbers far worse than previously forecast, with some prepared for a 50 per cent drop in overseas fee income, a sector leader has warned.

In a Times Higher Education panel event on the post-pandemic finances of UK universities, Alec Cameron, vice-chancellor of Aston University, said his institution expected a “much greater fall” than the 10 per cent to 20 per cent dip in international students predicted by the credit ratings agency Moody’s for its university clients. The UK university sector would be “very happy and relieved” to see that level of reduction, said Professor Cameron.

“It’s not because the applicants aren’t there – demand is still strong, and universities have a healthy pipeline of applicants,” he told the event on 8 July. The bigger problem was that the “gao kao examination system in China has just started – they have been deferred – English language testing is not available and visa offices are not open”, said Professor Cameron, describing some of the disruptions to the “long and complicated process [that allows] international students to show up at UK universities in September”.

Read more : Jack Grove : Times Higher Education : 09 July 2020