Update on Application Trends

The trends highlighted by UK NARIC last year seem to be continuing.

The latest figures from UK NARIC and UK NCP confirm that the trend for increased mobility of citizens from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece and that the UK is experiencing an increase in the number of people expressing an interest in coming to the UK to work, practice or study.

UK NARIC Assessments
Country 2009 assmts 2009 rank 2010 assmts 2010 rank 2011 assmts 2011 rank 2012 assmts 2012 rank
Greece 118 46th 148 42nd 146 41st 305 29th
Italy 539 17th 593 18th 647 14th 785 11th
Portugal 210 36th 192 35th 225 34th 361 24th
Spain 541 16th 683 16th 766 12th 1305 6th
UK NCP Enquiries
Country 2009 enqs % of total 2010 enqs % of total 2011 enqs % of total 2012 enqs % of total
Greece  NA  NA 17 3.1% 8 2.9% 36 4.0%
Italy  NA  NA 42 8.6% 46 7.8% 82 10.0%
Portugal  NA  NA 15 3.5% 17 1.4% 33 4.4%
Spain  NA  NA 50 10.2% 81 13.7% 200 24.5%

Figures for 2009 for UK NCP are unavailable.

The data from UK NARIC and UK NCP show that there have been significant increases in assessments and enquiries:

Country UK NARIC% change2009 – 12 UK NCP% change2010 – 12
Greece + 158% + 112%
Italy + 45% + 95%
Portugal + 72% + 120%
Spain + 141% + 300%

The increases experienced by these countries far outstrips the performance of any other countries in the region.

Based on figures from 2009, 2010 and 2011 we have been able to model the demand for UK NARIC assessments in 2013.  The figures below are based on real application figures for the first quarter of 2013:

UK NARIC Assessments
Country Jan 2013 Feb 2013 Mar 2013 Total 2013 Total Projected 2013 Projected v 2012 Real
Greece 37 21 29 87 320 105%
Italy 102 84 95 281 1033 132%
Portugal 27 55 52 134 493 137%
Spain 157 138 191 486 1787 137%


Data from UK NARIC and UK NCP shows that there has been a considerable increase in the number of assessments and enquiries from Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.  While this data does not definitely mean that the individuals submitting these requests do actually come to the UK to work, study or practice, there is a definite link between them.

The increases from Spain and Greece have been particularly noticeable and these may well be linked to the economic difficulties that these countries have been experiencing.

Whatever the reason, it does mean that employers, universities, colleges and professional bodies have a wider pool of highly qualified and highly talented individuals available to choose from.


Tim Buttress, June 2013

Application Trends – English Speaking Africa

The 2009 figures from UNESCO showed that there were 3.3 million outwardly mobile students across the world.

The regions with the largest number of mobile students are East Asia and the Pacific, North America and Western Europe, while the regions with the lowest number of mobile students are Latin America and the Caribbean, the Arab States and Sub-Saharan Africa. For each of these six regions, North America and Western Europe are the top destinations. Taking a closer look at the UNESCO figures for English speaking African countries, the UK is second most popular destination; South Africa being the first.

In terms of UK NARIC assessments, the region as a whole also accounts for around 10% of the total number undertaken every year. The number of assessments we have undertaken for applicants from these countries (plus the overall ranking) over the past four years highlights some interesting points:

Country 2008
Botswana 25 97th 11 112th 9 123rd
Cameroon 126 42nd 154 39th 105 43rd 140 42nd
Gambia 7 125th 10 120th
Ghana 591 17th 534 18th 480 17th 250 17th
Kenya 142 40th 161 38th 126 39th 120 145th
Liberia 1 168th 5 141st
Malawi 15 108th 11 112th 9 123rd
Namibia 3 143rd 7 135th
Nigeria 1680 6th 1587 7th 1295 6th 1469 5th
Sierra Leone 52 63rd 52 69th 35 78th 28 92nd
South Africa 2109 5th 1987 4th 1374 5th 1220 8th
Tanzania 26 85th 28 94th 21 95th 30 88th
Uganda 103 46th 123 45th 94 45th 148 40th
Zambia 50 67th 84 52nd 52 56th 47 70th
Zimbabwe 440 20th 443 20th 242 27th 265 30th
Total 5319 5193 3857 3757

The total number of assessments has fallen by nearly 30% over the past four years (5319 in 2008 and 3757 in 2011). In terms of individual assessments, both Nigeria and South Africa have been in the top ten for the whole period. However, whilst numbers from Nigeria have held relatively steady, those from South Africa have declined by nearly 50% in these four years.

It is nonetheless still the case that these two countries account for around 71% of all applications made from this region.

Qualification level of migrants

The table below shows the breakdown of the level of South African and Nigerian qualifications submitted during 2011:

Nigeria South Africa
Qualification level Examples % Examples %
Below Level 3 on the UK Qualifications Framework (QCF) Senior School Certificate, The West African Senior School Certificate, Nigeria Certificate of Education, Advanced Certificate in Secretarial Studies 34% N2 Engineering Studies, N3 Certificate in Engineering Drawing, National Certificate : Business Management 38%
A level and Sub-Degree Equivalents (QCF Levels 3, 4 and 5) Registered Nurse, Diploma in Computer Education, Higher National Diploma in Electrical Electronics 17% National Certificate N5 in Business Management, National Diploma in Industrial Engineering 14%
British Bachelor level Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) (1990) 42% Bachelor of Arts, Baccalaureus Legum 40%
Postgraduate Postgraduate Diploma in Education, Master of Science in Mathematics, Doctor of Philosophy 8% Post Graduate Certificate in Education, Bachelor of Veterinary Science, Master of Education, Philosophiae Doctor (Chemistry) 7%

The spread of qualifications from these countries is very interesting; nearly half are above Bachelor level, but a considerable proportion are below Level 3 on the UK QCF, in contrast to the overall average.

Tim Buttress, February 2013

Spotlight: Turkey

TurkishFlagTurkey is situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Bordered by eight countries, Turkey is a major regional power and is becoming increasingly integrated with the West through its membership of NATO, the Council of Europe and the G-20.

Turkey is a candidate country for EU membership: it began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member of the European Economic Community since 1963 and having joined the EU Customs Union in 1995.

Closer ties with the EU, which may or may not lead to membership, are driving educational redevelopment in many forms, including a qualification structure, professional qualification recognition and VET reform. Turkey has also been heavily involved with the Lifelong Learning Programme, and it has been estimated that, between 2007-13, almost 250,000 Turks will have benefitted from EU education and training programmes.

However, it still retains close ties with the Middle East, the Turkic States of Central Asia and African countries.  The population is roughly 80 million, with a relatively young age profile: 26.6% are under 15 years old (as a comparison, 18% of the UK population is below 15).

In the last decade, Turkey has enjoyed robust economic growth, per capita GDP rising more than fourfold (in 2011, for instance, the growth figure stood at 8.8%). At the time of writing, Turkey is the world’s 16th and Europe’s 6th biggest economy.


Turkey has been one of the most popular country files on the International Comparisons database in recent years.  In 2011, Turkey received 9,921 views.  This figure represents a 3.2% fall on the 2010 figure (10,240), but is an increase on 2009 (9,778).

“The figures for Turkey are intriguing.  We see a lot of traffic to the relevant pages on International Comparisons and we get a lot of individuals coming to us with Turkish qualifications; but there aren’t that many applications coming through UCAS.  The most recent figures show that there were only 450 applications and the country doesn’t feature in their top 50 countries.” commented Tim Buttress, Deputy Director Policy and Communications at UK NARIC.

Visa data may demonstrate why. According to the UED (Association of International Education Counsellors, in Turkey), there are now more than 55,000 Turkish nationals studying abroad, with 55% of these relating to language courses. English language courses in the UK have always been particularly popular (and likewise constitute the bulk of visa applications), although recent visa restrictions and costs have led to an increase in interest in other study destinations such as Malta.

Traditionally at higher education level, the most popular destination is the USA. According to UNESCO, Germany, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and the UK make up the rest of the top five study destinations.

Higher Education in Turkey

The higher education sector is currently experiencing considerable expansion. There are now roughly 170 universities, about 75 of which are run by private foundations. In terms of student numbers, there are now more than 2 million higher education students, of which more than 1 million are in undergraduate programmes and ½ million are in higher vocational schools. Only 9% of students are enrolled at the private, foundation universities, indicating the increased specialisation of these institutions.

An increasing global view and focus on quality assurance within higher education is beginning to pay dividends too: in terms of reputation, Middle East Technical University featured in the top 100 ranked universities in the 2012 THE study.

Nonetheless, this provision does not meet domestic demand for education and helps to explain the high numbers of students seeking to travel abroad to study each year. In 2009, for instance, 1.65 million university applications were made, but places for only 330,000 (20%) were available.

Turkey as an International Student Destination

Turkey is itself fast becoming an established destination country for international students. Statistics from the ÖSYM (Student Selection and Placement Center) show that there were 16,000 international students at Turkish universities in 2005-06 and that the number had increased to almost 27,000 by the 2010-11 academic year.

The admission of more foreign students has been stimulated by a governmental drive to play a greater role in the Islamic world, with offers of low tuition fees and generous scholarships. Additionally, in 2010, TUPA (Turkish Universities Promotion Agency) was formed to promote Turkish universities across the world and to attract international students. The Foreign Economic Relations Board’s (DEK) Business Education Council aims to increase the number of international students to 100,000 by 2015.

Official language(s) Turkish
Other language(s) Kurdish and other minority languages
Population 79,749,461 (Jul-12)
Population (world ranking) 17 (Jan-12)
GDP (purchasing power parity) $ 1,053,000,000,000 (Jan-11)
GDP (per capita world ranking) 107 (Jan-11)
Compulsory education Eight years, covering primary and basic education (ages 6 to 14). However, see Education Reforms below.
Academic year School begins in late September and extends through to early June, with some variations between urban and rural areas. Universities usually organise the academic year into two semesters, usually between October – January and between March – July.
Education laws New “4+4+4” Bill, proposing an extension of compulsory school education to 12 years and a reintroduction of more progression pathways at ‘middle school’ level – which has proved controversial as it will re-open progression at age 10 into imam hatip (religious-oriented) middle schools.
Outgoing students
Total (foreign students) 47,275 (2009)
Percentage of world total 1.4% (2009)
Top Destinations USA (12,612), Australia (7,648), France (5,803), Russian Fed. (3,518), Japan (2,895) – 2009
Number of Member Enquiries 2011 73
Member Enquiries 2011 rank 48th
Number of Individual Assessments 2011 237
Individual Assessments 2011 rank 32nd
Number of database page views 2011 9,921
Database page views 2011 rank 24th
Number of database page views 2010 10,240
Database page views 2010 rank 25th

What is a Statement of Comparability?

Please note that since this article has been published immigration guidance has changed. Please see our post UK NARIC’s Visas and Nationality Service launches on 6 April which contains more up-to-date information.



Since the introduction of the UK NARIC blog in November 2011, the most popular article we have written is ‘How a UK NARIC Statement of Comparability can help’ . Following on from the popularity of the article, here at UK NARIC we thought it a good idea to expand on the points made and further explain what a Statement of Comparability is, what is can do, how it can help; and perhaps equally importantly, what it is not and cannot do.

What is a Statement of Comparability?

Let’s start at the beginning – the purpose of the Statement of Comparability. The idea is that an individual from overseas comes (or is interested in coming) to the UK to study, gain employment or migrate. In order to do this, they need to prove to the admitting institution / potential employer / UK Border Agency* that they have a certain level of education or expertise. However, understanding the level of the qualifications the individual holds and what they can bring to the table is often the first stumbling block: here at UK NARIC, we can provide an assessment and compare the overseas award to a suitable and fair level within the UK national qualification framework. This will then allow the admitting institution / potential employer / UK Border Agency to understand, in more familiar terms, how the award compares to a UK level of education. The document we provide that contains this comparability, together with details of the awarding body, year of completion and title of award, is the Statement of Comparability.

Is UK NARIC’s decision final?

The comparability itself is merely our expert opinion derived from our considerable knowledge and experience which has been developed in close co-operation with universities in the UK as well as other NARICs and relevant authorities. It is not, as is often mistaken, a legally binding decision. A Statement provides details of the professional rights the qualification confers in the country of origin and forms the first stage in a two-stage process of professional recognition. Professional recognition in the UK is conducted by competent authorities such as the Teaching Agency and the Engineering Council.

Can UK NARIC provide a translation?

Usually, in order for UK NARIC to provide a Statement of Comparability, we request both the original language documents as well as certified translations. However, for certain languages, we can offer our Translation Waiver Service (TWS). The purpose of this service is to allow individuals to send solely the original language documents, thus removing the additional time and expense of certified translations. The full list of languages that are covered under the TWS can be found on the UK NARIC website. It is really important to clarify that the TWS is NOT a translation service – the idea is purely to save individuals time and money by allowing them to send their awards in the original language only.

Does the Statement of Comparability expire?

Another question we are regularly asked is whether the Statement of Comparability has an expiry date. The answer to this is no – it does not! However, as our information is reviewed on a rolling basis, it is possible that an assessment may change over time: new information or evidence may come to light that means we have to review a certain award or even an entire education system. The assessments provided are as accurate as possible, but are based on data available at the time of assessment only.

More information about a Statement of Comparability can be found on the UK NARIC website.

October 2012



*Please check the Home Office website to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information.

Further Trends from Western Europe

Further to the Application Trends from Western Europe, there are some interesting statistics which highlight the same points from the membership enquiries we receive.

Member Enquiries

Universities and Colleges make up over 66% of UK NARIC’s membership. Whilst the number of enquiries UK NARIC receives from members is significantly lower, it does give a stronger indication of the spread of applications being received.  The following two tables show how enquiries from Western Europe have changed over the past three years:

Country 2008 assmts 2008 rank 2009 assmts 2009 rank 2010 assmts 2010 rank 2011 assmts 2011 rank
Austria 31 74th 33 77th 41 73rd
Belgium 62 43rd 59 47th 69 50th
Denmark 34 72nd 37 69th 38 78th
Finland 42 58th 66 69th 34 80th
France 284 6th 311 6th 399 6th
Germany 278 7th 272 8th 223 11th
Greece 99 25th 105 27th 142 21st
Iceland 5 139th 5 145th 3 167th
Ireland 102 24th 68 41st 95 40th
Italy 158 15th 197 12th 205 14th
Luxembourg 2 167th 4 154th 1 190th
Malta 7 134th 14 106th 15 112th
Netherlands 93 30th 71 39th 98 37th
Norway 37 67th 26 81st 43 72nd
Portugal 84 32nd 87 32nd 134 23rd
Spain 168 14th 150 18th 213 14th
Sweden 43 55th 51 54th 45 69th
Switzerland 91 31st 120 21st 125 27th
UK 956 3rd 896 3rd 936 3rd
Total 2,576 2,572 2,859
Country 2009 2011 % change
Greece 99 142 + 43%
Ireland 102 95 – 7%
Italy 158 205 + 30%
Portugal 84 134 + 60%
Spain 168 213 + 27%
W. Europe Total 2,576 2,859 + 11%

2008 Figures are not currently available.


The membership enquiry and individual application figures from UK NARIC support reports that the economic troubles in certain countries within the Euro-zone mean that well qualified individuals are increasingly coming to the UK to work and / or study.

Those wishing to come to the UK to work, study or practice might find the following pages detailing how UK NARIC can help in Spanish, ItalianFrench, German, Romanian, Polish, Czech, Russian and Turkish useful.  An English version of the page is also available.


Tim Buttress, August 2012 (updated June 2013)

Application Trends from Western Europe

The increasing mobility of the European workforce in recent years can be noticed through an increase in the number of individuals applying to UK NARIC from Western Europe. In 2008, the region accounted for 8.5% of applications; in 2011, the figure had risen to 13.5%. The total number of applications from the region exceeded 5,000, similar to the total from India or Pakistan.

The number of assessments we have undertaken for applicants from these countries (plus the overall ranking) over the past four years highlights some interesting points:

Country 2008
Austria 38 79th 49 71st 54 73rd 40 77th
Belgium 66 56th 87 50th 81 52nd 89 52nd
Denmark 59 59th 69 60th 59 67th 59 63rd
Finland 46 70th 47 72nd 30 91st 23 100th
France 850 11th 941 10th 944 10th 831 11th
Germany 664 15th  705 13th 617 17th 475 19th
Greece 89 49th 118 46th 148 42nd 146 41st
Iceland 3 152nd 4 146th
Ireland 297 26th 356 25th 525 21st 442 22nd
Italy 436 21st 539 17th 593 18th 647 14th
Luxembourg 2 162nd 2 158th
Malta 20 103rd 12 115th 9 123rd
Netherlands 160 39th 154 39th 161 41st 173 37th
Norway 46 70th 46 75th 57 70th 27 94th
Portugal 237 32nd 210 36th 192 35th 225 35th
Spain 474 19th 541 16th 683 16th 766 12th
Sweden 118 43rd 141 41st 183 36th 91 51st
Switzerland 67 55th 80 53rd 64 64th 76 57th
UK 430 21st 701 16th 925 10th
Total 3,647 4,533 5,110 5,050


In 2009, UK NARIC began providing a comparable academic level for some UK professional qualifications, in response to the number of these awards being sent through.

Economic migration

It has been reported that the financial troubles besetting certain European economies have led increasing numbers of highly qualified individuals to seek employment outside of their own countries.  These figures appear to confirm this trend.  Taking a closer look at the number of individuals applying for assessments from those countries that have been hardest hit by the economic downturn better highlights the increases:

Country 2008 2011 % change
Greece 89 146 + 64%
Ireland 297 442 + 48%
Italy 436 647 + 48%
Portugal 237 225 – 5%
Spain 474 766  + 61%
W. Europe Total 3,647 5,050 + 38%

Only Portugal shows a decline while Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain show significant increases.  By contrast, applications from other major European countries such as France, Germany and Netherlands have remained steady or declined slightly.

Qualification level of migrants

Spain, Italy and Ireland are significant source countries, all of them within the top 25 in the County League table.  They have all seen a significant rise in the number of applications they generate.  A breakdown of the level of qualifications submitted from these countries during 2011 is shown below:

Spain (766) Italy (647) Ireland (442)  Global
Examples % Examples % Examples % %
Below Level 3 on the UK Qualifications Framework (QCF) Título de Graduada en Educación Secundaria, Bachillerato Unificado y Polivalente (BUP) 20% Diploma di Maestro d`Arte, Attestato di Qualifica Professionale – Special- izzazione Estetista 11% Leaving Certificate, Junior Certificate 27% 23%
A level and Sub-Degree Equivalents (QCF Levels 3, 4 and 5) Maestra, Especialidad de Educación Musical, Técnica Superior en Información y Comercial- ización Turística 35% Diploma di Esame di Stato, Diploma di Infermiere Professionale (Nursing) 35% National Diploma in Design in Interior Architecture, Higher Certificate in Engineering 33% 25%
British Bachelor level Título de Licenciado / Título de Ingeniero / Título de Arquitecto 23% Laurea, Laurea in Ingegneria 35% Bachelor of Science, Higher Diploma in Arts 29% 34%
Postgraduate Máster en Físcia Aplicada, Máster Universitario en Profesor/a de Educación Secundaria 2% Diploma di Special- izzazione per L`Insegna-
mento Secondario, Diploma di Specialista in Medicina Interna: Medicina d`Urgenza
17% Master of Science,  Certificate of Membership / Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland 5% 10%
No comparison available 20% 2% 7% 8%

The distribution of enquiries for the three countries highlights that:

  • Italians coming to the UK are more likely to be postgraduates than the global average
  • Irish applicants are more likely to apply with school or vocational qualifications, and
  • It is not possible to provide a comparison for 20% of Spanish cases because applications were not completed or because qualifications were not recognised by the education authorities in Spain (such as the Técnico Superior en Prevención de Riesgos Laborales).

Tim Buttress, August 2012