The chief executive of the umbrella body of UK universities, "Universities UK", has said that a series of hostile speeches and policy initiatives from UK government ministers about UK immigration is driving international students away from the UK. Many students from India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China are choosing to study in other countries such as Australia, the United States and Canada according to Nicola Dandridge, the chief executive of Universities UK.
Ms Dandridge warns that this could have negative consequences not
only for the export education sector but also for the UK as a whole. The
Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has estimated that the UK's export
education market is worth nearly £15bn per year to the UK economy.
concerned about the language and the atmosphere that is being created, not least
because it plays very, very badly internationally,' said Ms Dandridge to UK
newspaper The Guardian.
'Whatever the intentions of the politicians
are…every time these sorts of comments are made by the Home Secretary or others,
it does have a potentially very damaging impact
Home Office ministers in particular have made a
series of speeches which Ms Dandridge says have had a negative effect on the
numbers of international students applying to UK universities. Below are some
recent events that may have further discouraged international students from
studying in the UK;
• In August 2012, the UK Border Agency (UKBA)
revoked the Highly Trusted Sponsor status of London Metropolitan University
because of alleged irregularities with the university's systems for checking
that international students were genuine. Some 2,600 students were told that
they would have to leave the university without finishing their courses.
October 2012, 30,000 international students in London were told to register at a
single London police station. Students could not start their course until they
had registered but lengthy queues meant that many had to return numerous times
in order to be seen. One told The Guardian, 'Obviously, this will damage British
universities' reputation. This isn't the only country that offers international
education – the US and Canada do not treat foreign students like this.'
December 2012, Home Secretary Theresa May made a speech at the Policy Exchange
think tank; she said that immigrants had 'displaced' some UK workers and driven
up house prices in the UK
• Also in December 2012, Mrs May announced that the
UKBA would carry out more than 100,000 interviews annually on students from
certain countries including Pakistan and India to ensure that students spoke
adequate English to study at UK universities before they were granted Tier 4
Since it came to power in 2010, the UK's Coalition
government has pursued policies designed to cut the level of immigration into
the UK to below 100,000 a year
from the 2010 level of about 260,000 a year. The government are committed to
this policy; David Cameron, now the UK Prime Minister, told BBC interviewer
Andrew Marr in January 2010 that a government led by him would bring net
immigration to 'tens of thousands' every year by 2015. The Institute for Public
Policy Research and many others say that the UK government will not succeed in
meeting the target.
The net immigration figure is made by taking the
total number of immigrants in any one year and subtracting the total number of
people leaving the country over the same period. Because so many of the people
who are counted as immigrants to the UK are students it would be impossible for
the government to meet its target without cutting student numbers.
the year to March 2012, net immigration was 183,000. This is calculated by
subtracting the number of UK residents leaving the country (353,000) from the
number of foreign nationals coming to live in the UK ((536,000). Of the 536,000,
213,000 were international students coming to the UK on Tier 4 student
The government has cracked down on 'bogus colleges' which
were, in the words of the immigration minister Mark Harper 'selling immigration,
not education'. Mr Harper says that some 500 colleges have lost their licence to
sponsor overseas students for UK Tier 4 student visas since the Coalition came
to power in 2010.
However, there had been, until this year, a
continuing increase in the number of international students coming to study at
UK universities. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of applications from
international students to UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions
Service, which handles applications to UK universities, rose by 7% annually.
However, UCAS says that figures that will be released later in January will show
an increase of only 0.8% for the coming year. Figures compiled by the Office for
National Statistics showed a fall of 26% in the number of study visas granted by
the UK Border Agency in the year to September 2012.
Ms Dandridge told
The Guardian 'universities are reporting…significant drops, particularly from
India, from Pakistan and now from China and Saudi Arabia. These are countries
that send large numbers and also they are important countries in terms of
international engagement and industry engagement, so we want to be promoting and
fostering relations with them, not erecting barriers.'
called on the government to remove students from the immigration figures so that
the government could meet its targets without damaging UK universities. 'We need
to encourage politicians and decision makers to portray the UK as being open and
welcoming to international students. That can be done without in any sense
compromising our immigration laws.'
Global Visa Support offers a variety of
programs in United Kingdom.
Please check our UK page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/uk.html