Gateway to the North: Manchester Airport welcomes record numbers of international students

Manchester Airport has welcomed a record number of international students through its terminals this summer, underlining the world class reputation of universities across the North.

There are 43 universities within the airport’s two-hour catchment area, all of which are increasingly attracting students from as far afield as China, India and Japan.

Offering world-renowned undergraduate and postgraduate courses and research placements, they have long been a draw for overseas students seeking a British education.

But, as Manchester Airport’s long-haul route network has grown in recent years, applications from all four corners of the globe have increased in tandem.

The UK’s third largest airport has seen an 18% increase in the number of long-haul seats between 2015 and 2018, which in some cases has contributed to a 25% increase in international student numbers at Northern universities.

In the last month, thousands of international students have flown into Manchester Airport as they begin their studies or return for another year at university. Representatives from the universities of Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Sheffield, Bangor and Bradford were amongst the many providing an arrivals service.

The University of Manchester collected more than 800 students, while the University of Liverpool had more than 500 students, with the University of Bradford picking up more than 350. The figures do not include those making their own way to the universities.

As the airport has continued to grow and add more destinations it has made it easier for the universities in the airport’s catchment area to attract new international students.

Alex Carter, International Centre, The University of Chester, said: “The University of Chester is expecting to welcome a record number of international students for this academic intake with the vast majority arriving at Manchester Airport. These new starters will become part of our diverse and vibrant community with 20,000 students from 130 different countries currently studying at the University.

“Our most popular markets for international student recruitment include China, Nigeria, India, USA and countries in the South East Asia region. These new students will be studying a wide range of programmes across all levels with Business, Clinical Sciences, Medicine and Engineering among the most popular subject areas.

“Good connectivity plays an important part of our international recruitment efforts. We know students prefer to choose destinations which are easily accessible and mentioning our close proximity to Manchester Airport, a hub for international arrivals, is an effective marketing tool.

“An international student’s journey in the UK begins at the airport and their first steps are made simple and comfortable thanks to the ease of access between Manchester Airport and Chester.”

It comes as the University of Liverpool is reporting a record intake of international students this year. This follows a trend that has been seen over recent years. Between academic year 2014/15 and 20117/18 international students from outside of Europe grew by +4% in the North West, ahead of the UK average of +3%.

Daniel Stephenson, Associate Director, International Recruitment, Relations & Study Abroad Team at the University of Liverpool, said: “Liverpool is a truly global university offering a distinctive international experience. Throughout the University of Liverpool’s 139 year history we have welcomed scholars from all over the world and are therefore highly experienced in meeting the needs of international students. We currently have over 8,000 international and EU students from over 130 countries. During the September 2019 intake, we are expecting to receive our largest ever new intake of international students, studying programmes from Accounting to Zoology and everything in between!”

Arriving into a new country for the first time as an international student can be daunting which is why large number of universities offer an arrivals service to welcome their students and ensure they get to the campus easily.

Marcel Clusa, International Student Support Office, Bangor University “Airport pick up day is, by far, one of my favourite days in the academic calendar. Seeing all the students arriving, and those smiley faces as they see the Bangor banners: it’s priceless! We have staff and current students coming to the Manchester Airport to meet and greet the new international students, and to make sure they feel welcome to the Bangor Community from the first minute.”

The news comes as student visa rules were changed earlier this year to make it easier for international students in some countries to come and study in the UK. India in particular has been a focus for two North West universities.

During a recent trade mission to the country, The University of Bolton signed a memorandum of understanding with Apollo Healthcare whilst the University of Salford signed one with the State of Karnataka with the aim of developing an education capacity building.

Andrew Cowan, CEO at Manchester Airport, said: “As the gateway to the North we take great pride in welcoming thousands of international students as they arrive in the UK. We know universities value the global connectivity that the airport offers as it makes them an attractive proposition to prospective students and researchers.

“In addition, we know students themselves really value being able to access direct services to and from their homelands, while this connectivity also makes it easier for friends and family members to visit them during their studies.

“This, in turn, delivers a significant boost to the visitor economy each year, as well as creating a cohort of advocates who return home to share their positive experiences of spending time in the North.”