UK Home Secretary Considers Restricting Number of International Students in Country

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The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Suella Braverman, said she is considering reducing the number of international students who can stay in the United Kingdom after completing their course.

Braverman is planning to limit the number of international students receiving graduate post-study work visas, which, according to the UK government website, allows the latter to remain in the UK for at least 2 years after graduation. According to her, the country has seen a massive increase in international students and their dependents.

“Students are coming on their student visa, but they’re bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa. Those people are coming here, they’re not necessarily working or they’re working in low-skilled jobs, and they’re not contributing to growing our economy,” she told the Sun on Sunday.

Such a move was criticized by university leaders who said it conveys a message that the UK is an unwelcoming country for international students, who contribute £25.9 billion to the UK economy annually through their spending.

The government announced that post-study work visas were reinstated in the UK last year after Theresa May, who at the time was Home Secretary decided to abolish them in 2012 and reduce the time that international students can stay in the UK after graduation to only four months.

Braverman was appointed Home Secretary on September 6, of this year. Previously, she served as Attorney General between 2020 and 2022.

Under the new scheme, 66,211 international students were entitled to stay in the country after being granted a graduate visa. The majority of visas, - 28,331 or 43 percent of all graduate visas, were granted to students from India, 12 percent to those from Nigeria and 10 percent to Chinese students.

Last week, it was reported that UK ministers are discussing plans to limit the number of dependents international students can bring to the country during their studies. The Home Secretary expressed concerns over the matter, highlighting that the objective was to reduce net migration.

Similarly, Cabinet Office minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News that despite the importance that international students have for the United Kingdom, they are not doing the right thing by bringing five, six or more people with them to the UK.

Data published by Universities UK (UUK), the advocacy organization for UK universities, indicate that in the year ending June 2022, a total of 486,868 sponsored study visas were issued to international students. Home Office revealed that in June 2022, 81,089 visas were granted to dependents of international students, which was a huge increase from 2019, when 13,664 dependents received visas to the UK.

At the beginning of this year, Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) announced that the United Kingdom achieved the target of having 600,000 international students a decade earlier than expected. There were 605,130 international students enrolled at universities across the country during the academic year 2020/21, also increasing by 8.7 percent compared to the previous year when there were 556,625 students in the UK.

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