Does the UK still want International Students?
According to the 2011 Census, the population of the UK rose 7.1%, to 56.1 million, from 2001 to 2011, making the UK the third most densely populated country in the Europe. Immigration accounted for 56% of the increase and official numbers did not include illegal immigrants who didn’t complete the census. In an effort to control this, Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, proposed a number of changes to the immigration system including limiting the number of years non-EU students can spend studying, restricting the number of hours of paid work they can do during and after their degree courses and not allowing their families to come with them unless they are enrolled into a postgraduate course that lasts longer than one year. This would hopefully help reduce immigration counts from 250,000 to the ‘tens of thousands’.
However, universities argued that this will, and in some cases, already has deterred many international students that both they and the economy rely on. The international student market is an £8 billion a year industry, with expectations of doubling by 2025. One in 10 students who choose to study in a different country to their own chooses the UK. But with recorded declines of 62% in student visas in the first quarter of 2012, these immigration changes can be very damaging to our economy.
In response, a letter signed by 68 universities chancellors, governors and presidents was sent to David Cameron urging the government to take foreign students out of the net immigration count by classing them as temporary rather than permanent migrants. But Damian Green said it would be ‘silly’ and ‘absurd’ not to count students as migrants and doing so would just be ‘fiddling with the figures’ instead of solving the problem. He said the new rules aimed at shutting down ‘bogus’ institutions and there was ’no reason’ why British universities would not be able to continue to attract the ‘brightest and the best’ students from around the world.
So, to answer the question ‘Does the UK still want international students?’ ... yes. Damian Green insists that ‘genuine foreign students have nothing to fear from a crackdown on overseas recruitment’. But, with fewer visas available, international students will have more competition to get a place and a visa. Therefore, having a service like ComparetheCourse.com will be very helpful in perfecting your application and improving your chances of getting a place.