UK Government Plans to Limit Dependents of International Master’s Students

United Kingdom Europe International Studies Statistics Higher Education News by Erudera News May 16, 2023

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

The UK Department of Education, the Home Office, and the Treasury are planning to take action to limit visas of dependents of international students pursuing master’s degrees in the United Kingdom, officials have said.

Local media reports say that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is preparing himself for net migration figures to show a record high.

Authorities have earlier voiced concerns about the high number of international students in the UK, saying that the long-term goal was to reduce net migration figures to “tens of thousands,” Erudera.com reports.

“There are some people who are coming to study in the UK who are bringing five, six more people with them. Is that right? No,” the Cabinet Office minister, Nadhim Zahawi, told the British news service platform in an interview last year.

As the Financial Times reports, the surge in migration after the COVID-19 pandemic can be attributed mainly to students, with many bringing family members. In 2022, nearly 500,000 student visas have been issued by authorities in the country, which is an 81 percent increase compared to 2019.

Students from Nigeria and India were most likely to bring dependents to the UK in 2022. Last year, a total of 35,788 visas were issued to family members of students, an increase from 16,047 in 2019.

Officials said that many master courses last up to nine months, and limiting the number of dependents does not affect UK’s ability to attract global talent.

“It’s clear we have to do something. We’re a long way from David Cameron’s promise to reduce annual net migration to the ‘tens of thousands,” one of the ministers told the Financial Times.

UK Visas Issued to Non-EU Nationals in 2019 & 2022

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), net migration to the UK reached a record 504,000 between June 2021 and June last year. The Centre for Policy Studies, a UK-based think-tank, has projected net migration could hit 700,000 last year.

By the end of the last year, Universities UK, the organization representing universities in the country, opposed the idea of curbing the number of international students in the UK on the grounds of reducing net migration, saying it would be an act of self-harm and is against the government’s strategy.

>> Universities Say Reducing Number of International Students in UK Is Unhelpful & Counterproductive

According to data from Home Office, the number of family members of international students in the UK increased from 13,664 in 2019 to 81,089 in June 2022.

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