UK universities have had a 24% rise in fee income from overseas students, latest figures show.
Universities are keen to recruit more students from overseas
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.
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.