International student numbers have been plummeting for years. Now what?

Jul 17, 2016 by

Brexit is an opportunity to look at the way we treat foreign students. Policies – and rhetoric – need to change

Higher education is already feeling the effect of the Brexit vote, with UK academics being dropped from joint applications for funding from the European Research Council. The future of students coming to study in the UK from the European Union is similarly uncertain, as free movement comes under threat. But if Britain is to remain a popular study destination for students from around the globe, it is more important now than ever that the government urgently reviews its treatment of international students.

We know that international students (from outside the EU) are looking to study away from their home countries in greater and greater numbers. That figure is increasing by 6% a year, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. We also know that the UK is home to the some of the best universities in the world, so it would follow that many of these students would choose to study here. But by December 2015, the number of non-EU student arrivals hit a nine-year low of 167,000; by March 2016, non-EU applications to study in the UK had dropped to 222,609, a 6% decline.

New prime minister Theresa May was notoriously hostile to international students in her previous role as home secretary. She tightened visa requirements last year and made it more difficult for international students to work in the UK after graduating. These students are also included in net migration figures – which the government is desperately trying to reduce.

But international students clearly shouldn’t be part of the conversation about migration. They benefit our universities and the economy (to the tune of £7bn a year), and they don’t generally hang about if they can’t find gainful employment afterwards. Why would anybody spend thousands and overcome a plethora of hurdles to study here, only to claim benefits afterwards?

Source: International student numbers have been plummeting for years. Now what? | Higher Education Network | The Guardian

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.