International students are almost twice as likely to apply to London campuses than domestic students, according to data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
The 2019 International Insight report by the admissions service said that 54.1% of international students applied to one or more universities in the capital, compared to only 27.8% of domestic students.
Figures from the Complete University Guide have suggested though that overseas students at London universities can end up paying fees up to 12% higher than the national average.
Moreover, the data showed that international applicants were almost twice as likely to apply to at least one Scottish university than domestic students were, with rates of 30% and 15.2% respectively.
Scotland was particularly popular among EU applicants, with 35.5% applying.
The UCAS data further adds that 72.8% of international students applied to at least one highly selective university in 2019, versus 49.2% of UK applicants.
This almost 50% increase is partly attributable to Chinese students who account for 15.3% of international applicants and of which 87.1% applied to at least one highly selective university.
A large proportion of student from other countries also submitted applications to highly selective universities; Singapore (93.5%), Malaysia (89.8%), Hong Kong (85.2%) and Thailand (83%).
On the other hand, several EU countries, including Portugal (69.7%), Lithuania (67.8%) and Romania (61.4%) have higher proportions of applicants applying to lower rate universities than the UK has (61%).
Overall, 63.2% of EU applicants applied to a higher tariff provider, compared to 78.6% for those outside the EU.
The report also highlighted several emerging markets that have recorded large year-on-year increases in applicant numbers, including Ghana (up 25.5%), South Africa (up 17.1%) and Kuwait (up 26.9%).
The research confirms non-UK students’ preference for science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses. For example, in mathematical sciences, 34.2% of applicants last year were from outside the UK, compared to only 5.2% of applicants for education courses.
The quality of teaching was the most important factor for international students when choosing a university, followed by the teaching facilities and entry requirements, the report outlined.
Key lifestyle factors included the availability and quality of university accommodation, the cost of living at the university, and the social life available.
Clare Marchant, UCAS’s chief executive, said: “The draw of studying in the capital is clear”.
“Campuses and communities across the country benefit enormously from both the academic and cultural contributions of students choosing the UK to pursue their studies.”