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The provisional figures for the 2005 entry published last week by the British Universities and Colleges Admissions Service UCAS reveal that 22.5 percent less Chinese students have enrolled on UK courses than in 2004. The decline could represent a major financial problem for UK universities which highly depend on the fees paid by non-European students. Overall, Chinese students represent the biggest group (12%) of foreign students in the UK (Eurostat/Unesco figures, 2002/03).
According to UCAS, overall, 404,668 applicants have been accepted onto UK higher education courses starting in 2005 compared with 375,530 in 2004, an increase of 7.76%. Foreign enrolments in the UK have gone up by 4.9 percent, from 42,942 to 45,058. This average hides, however, important differences: while enrolments by continental European EU students went up 17.2 percent compared to 2004, the number of “other” (and more lucrative) overseas students increased only by 0.9 percent.