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UK private school pupil figure down

Private schools are relying increasingly on foreign students as the number of home pupils drops, figures show.

A census conducted by the Independent Schools Council (ISC), which covers 1,234 member schools, found that while their overseas intake is increasing year-on-year the number of British students in private schooling is falling.

The figures reveal that the number of pupils coming from abroad has increased 5.5% on last year, with more than 24,554 non-British pupils now in independent schools in the UK. However, the number in private education overall has fallen by 0.2% to just over 505,300.

More than a third of non-British pupils with parents living overseas are now coming from Hong Kong and China. The next highest share from a single country comes from Germany (9.6%).

Europe, as a whole, accounts for 33.8% of all non-British pupils with parents living overseas.

The census also shows that more children are coming from the Middle East than last year, while there has been a relative drop in the number of pupils from the US, South Korea and Taiwan.

An increase was also seen in boarding pupil numbers, made up mostly of foreign students, which rose by 1.7% among schools completing the census in the last two years.

Private schools are not set to be affected by Home Office plans to introduce a cap on the number of non-EU student visas, as the limit will only apply to those wishing to study degree-level courses.

ISC Chief Executive David Lyscom said the census "underlines the importance of the UK having a proportionate visa regime which is capable of distinguishing between independent schools and their pupils and other student migrants". He continued: "We are pleased that the UK Border Agency has listened to ISC's message and has granted all independent schools automatic Highly Trusted Sponsor status."

He added that the rise in overseas pupil numbers showed the ability of independent schools in the UK to attract high quality applicants from overseas "in the face of fierce competition from other countries".


From Belfast Telegraph