Expanding the Horizons: UK Universities’ Strategies in International Student Recruitment

Survey Findings: A Push for Diversity and Growth

The “Diversification and Strengthening International Recruitment Practices” report, based on a survey of Universities UK’s (UUK) membership, sheds light on the concerted efforts by UK universities to achieve sustainable growth and diversity in international student recruitment. The survey reveals a significant trend among universities actively diversifying their international student base, with 90% of respondents indicating such initiatives. This diversification spans an impressive range of 40 different countries, underscoring the global reach and appeal of UK higher education. 

Evolving Recruitment Strategies

UK universities are not just expanding their geographical reach; they are also reforming their recruitment practices to align with the changing global market and applicant behaviour. This includes: 

Reforming Application Processes: Adapting to the needs and expectations of international students by making application processes more streamlined and user-friendly. 
Adapting CAS Issuance Deadlines: Modifying Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies issuance to accommodate international students’ timelines. 
Setting Earlier Deadlines: Implementing earlier application and deposit deadlines to better manage admissions and enrolment. 
Programme-Specific Closures: Introducing the ability to close programmes to applications based on domicile, ensuring a diverse and balanced intake. 

The Role of Deposits in Recruitment 

The report highlights that almost all universities (96%) require deposits from international students as part of the application process. This serves as a commitment indicator, ensuring that applicants are genuine students with a clear intent to study. The majority of these deposits are set at a specific monetary amount (67%), with some universities opting for a percentage of the tuition fee (17%). 

Pre-CAS Interviews: Assessing Student Motivation 

Pre-CAS interviews, used by 57% of the universities surveyed, are a critical tool in understanding the motivations of international students. These interviews often include a mix of identity checks and intensive conversational elements, helping universities gauge the students’ interest and fit for their chosen courses. 

Addressing the Increase in Dependants 

With a marked increase in dependants accompanying international students on sponsored study visas, universities are adapting their processes accordingly. Almost half of the survey respondents (45%) noted that their universities ask postgraduate students about dependants planning to travel to the UK, allowing for better planning and support. 

Working with Agents for Diversification 

The role of international student recruitment agents is crucial in diversifying student intake. The survey indicates a range of activities with agents, including recruiting new agents in target markets and providing them with training and support. Over half of the universities (55%) use the UK Agent Quality Framework, incorporating it into agent contracts and using it for policy reviews and training. 

Managing Agent Aggregators and Sub-agents 

The use of agent aggregators or a sub-agent model is prevalent among over half of the survey respondents. To maintain transparency and quality, universities are focusing on performance assessments and monitoring, evaluating metrics such as application quality, enrolment ratios, and visa compliance. 


In the ever-changing arena of UK university international recruitment strategies, the MyUniChoices programme from MyFutureChoice emerges as a pivotal tool for students globally. This programme resonates with the diversity-focused approaches underscored in the recent survey, offering bespoke support in choosing the right UK university. By mirroring the adaptability and diversification efforts of universities, MyUniChoices adeptly aligns students with institutions that fulfil their academic ambitions while embracing their unique personal and cultural identities, thereby enhancing the commitment to a globally inclusive academic milieu.

MyUniChoices can assist UK universities with their international student recruitment strategies in the following ways:

  • Targeted Recruitment: Helps universities reach a diverse pool of potential international students through tailored recommendations.
  • Streamlined Processes: Simplifies the application process for international students, aligning with universities’ efforts to make their systems more accessible.
  • Brand Visibility: Increases the visibility of UK universities on a global platform, attracting a wider range of applicants.
  • Cultural Integration: Aids in understanding the cultural and academic needs of international students, helping universities adapt their services accordingly.

The comprehensive strategies adopted by UK universities, as detailed in the report, reflect their commitment to not only attracting a diverse international student body but also ensuring high levels of compliance and quality in the process. These efforts highlight the dynamic and responsive nature of the UK higher education sector in a rapidly evolving global education landscape. 

For more insights, the full report “Diversification and Strengthening International Recruitment Practices” can be accessed here: Universities UK International Report