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

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News International Studies by Erudera News Oct 18, 2022

United Kingdom – Big Ben

Universities UK (UUK), the organization representing 140 universities across the United Kingdom, has reacted to the recent statements of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Suella Braverman, who said that the number of international students in the UK should be reduced.

Following the comments, UUK joined GuildHE, Million Plus and University Alliance in urging the government to restate its commitment as set in the International Education Strategy but also to avoid sending the message that international students and their dependents may not be welcome in the county.

The leaders of the universities sent a letter to Braverman in which they wrote that such a thing is unhelpful and not productive, Erudera.com reports.

“The negative rhetoric suggesting a need to reduce international student numbers is unhelpful and counterproductive. It stands to directly impact on the continued success of one of the UK’s premier export industries and restrict economic growth,” the letter reads.

Moreover, university representatives pointed out that the discussion has been reported worldwide, which conveys a message that the United Kingdom is an unwelcoming and hostile environment for international students.

Universities UK CEO Vivienne Stern said that the high number of international students choosing the UK as their study destination is a “real success story”, and the country also benefits from them as the latter contribute to connections in trade, politics, research and more.

“For a government focused on growth, to try to reduce the appeal to international students would be bizarre, especially when you consider that they contribute nearly £26 billion to the UK economy - and that this is spread throughout all parts of the UK. It is even more bizarre when recent growth in international student numbers has been a direct result of pro-growth government policies and visa changes,” Stern said, urging the government not to make such a decision.

Data indicate that international students contribute at least £25.9 billion per year to the UK economy and also bring 70 percent of the UK’s education export earnings.

Braverman has recently commented on the increase in international student numbers and the dependents they bring into the country. There has been discussion on limiting the number of international students who remain in the UK after graduation. Under graduate post-study work visas, students from abroad are permitted to remain in the UK for at least two years after finishing their course.

According to the Home Secretary, the number of dependents is worrying, as students continue to bring up to six dependents into the country.

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) revealed that in the academic year 2020/21, the UK had already reached the target of having 600,000 international students ten years earlier than planned.

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