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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 April, 2004, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
Jump in overseas student fee income
student using library
Universities are keen to recruit more students from overseas
UK universities have had a 24% rise in fee income from overseas students, latest figures show.

The latest financial returns - for 2002-03 - show the income from students from outside the European Union was just over 1bn.

That was up from a total of 875m in the previous year.

The number of overseas students went up by 21%, from 152,625 to 184,685. There are no limits on the fees universities can charge them.

Some universities have said they intend taking more overseas students as a way of increasing their income.

No limits

That is in spite of government plans to introduce variable tuition fees for undergraduates in England of up to 3,000 from 2006.

Currently, fees for UK and EU undergraduates are fixed at 1,125 a year - although they are waived in Scotland, which has a postgraduate contribution scheme.

But non-EU students can be charged whatever universities decide the market will bear. Undergraduate fees of 7,000 - 9,000 a year are typical.

The financial returns, released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, also show there was an increase of a third (34%) in fee income from part-time students, although the total involved was relatively small: 10.7m.

Fees are already variable for part-timers - and will continue to be paid upfront in England after 2006, when full-timers move to postgraduate repayments.

The data also show a 43% increase in income from grants made by research councils and other bodies in support of the training of research students, to more than 42.6m.

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