What would The UK government’s plans to cut student immigration by 50% mean for education in the UK?
The UK government is planning on slashing non-EU expat student numbers almost in half from 300,000 to 170,000 under tougher student visa rules. The threat is being greeted with dismay by university heads, who have claimed that some very good overseas applicants have already been refused visas on specious grounds.
Amber Rudd, the home secretary, has pledged a crackdown on international student numbers at the Conservative party conference to include more stringent visa rules for “lower quality” universities. However, senior universities are warning that the cutbacks could be far more severe than predicted, with one route to cut the current 300,000 to 170,000 a year.
According to the vice-chancellors’ umbrella group, international students bring more than £10.7bn to the UK economy.
Judgments being made by UK Visas and Immigration have apparently altered considerably in the past few months, with Indian students, in particular, being targeted.
Heads of Universities are reportedly fearful of speaking out about these decisions in case it counts against future applicants to their institution. Below however are some examples that the Guardian online shared of expat students being denied visas:
– One applicant was considered not to be genuine because he did not know the university library opening times.
– One applicant was excluded for not knowing the name of the vice-chancellor of the university.
– One applicant was denied a visa for dropping below the amount specified in a bank account by a ‘couple of pounds’ on one day out of a 90-day period, despite his parents having huge funds and their account also being submitted.
Theresa May’s government is pursuing the target of reducing net migration into the UK to the tens of thousands, which has led it to this target non-EU student numbers. However, since taking office, net immigration has seen an increase. This is chiefly because several more students from outside the EU are coming to study at universities and language schools in the UK.
If the UK really want to be open to the world and a global leader in free trade, they can only do so by welcoming the fresh talent. If international students are going to study in the UK, they need to feel welcome, and so even a hint that students are unwelcome and they will go elsewhere. This isn’t about students claiming British citizenship, it’s about them feeling welcome enough to be able to complete their studies without anti-immigrant rhetoric from sending them elsewhere.
Members of the UK’s home affairs select committee have cautioned against these measures, claiming they could be hugely harmful to what is currently thriving and successful industry. These changes could potentially not only be economically detrimental to the UK, but also vital to the UK’s international relations.
Rebecca Harper is a freelance writing living in London. She writes about law, politics and immigration. When she isn’t writing, you can find her searching the cafes of London for the perfect flat white.