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Universities fear stricter controls

A recent survey with university Finance Directors conducted by Deloitte has revealed worries that government policy is hindering their ability to attract non-EU students and is keeping them up at night. 94% of those surveyed said that attracting foreign students was a top priority compared to 74% who identified the national market as a key area for growth. Equally evident was the view that the Home Office’s policies are deeply unpopular and damage UK universities’ ability to recruit foreign students.

With no fee cap for foreign students (currently there is a fee cap of £9,000 for UK nationals) many universities see foreign students as a vital source of income covering both rising staff and operational costs. Figures from the 2013 – 2014 academic year show that fee revenue increased 10% and the amount of foreign students studying in the UK increased by 1.7%.

It is thought that  tougher immigration policies mean that universities are struggling to attract foreign students. As a knock on effect universities are subsequently finding it hard to meet the financial demands required to attract top research talent. Amongst other new measures include a time limit of four months that recent non-EU graduates have in order to seek employment. Additionally, the job must pay over the threshold of £20,500.

Whilst over the academic year of 2013-2014 non-EU students increased to 179,390 universities fear that this number will drop once the full effects of new immigration policies come into play. The financial need for UK universities to enroll foreign students is becoming increasingly important. For the same time period non-EU students made up 44.5% of university funding compares to just 28.7% in the academic year 2008-2009. Currently, the UK is second only to the USA in attracting students to study at university level.

Whilst the number of foreign students enrolling in UK universities has remained broadly stagnant in the last few years, application to other English speaking countries have risen.  Australia, Canada and the US have seen rises with 14, 10  and 8% respectively.

Fears grow that the global reputation that the UK has for providing excellent further education will be tarnished as student are dissuaded from studying in the UK due to what is seen as unnecessary measures to curb immigration. The Home Office have cited the impact that immigration has on public services such as housing and health care as reasons to limit immigration to the UK. However, critics have argued that the majority of immigrants are usually of working age and are healthy and thus less likely to use the health service than an aging British population as well as paying taxes that cover the extra costs placed on social services.

Are you a foreign student in the UK? Are you put off from applying to study in the UK because of these new measures? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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