International students and their value to the British economy


International students currently make up over 15% of all University students in the UK, with 43% of all research postgraduates coming to study in the UK from another country. Unfortunately for all these current students, as well as the many more due to join the British Higher Education system in the next few years, the Government is considering new security measures that could reduce the chance of international students gaining a visa, resulting in up to 80,000 less international students every year.

The new regulations will also include more stringent rules on students staying in the UK to work after finishing their degree courses. Currently, through the Post-Study Work scheme, international students can remain in Britain for up to 2 years to gain work experience relating to their degree. However, the Government is imposing a new rule that the international graduates must earn more than £20,000 a year, and have a valid work permit, both of which are very difficult to obtain. This will substantially decrease the number of international students attempting to stay in the UK to work for a short period after university.

Although this is a logical move when it comes to immigration; levels are reaching record highs, and with more people coming to the UK to study than ever before, it makes sense to introduce some measures to control this influx. However, it is also important to note that international students pay much higher fees than other students (between £8,000 and £15,000, compared to slightly over £3000 for UK students), and they are also unable to apply for government financing.  As a result of this, universities gain between 10 and 30% of their income from these international students. This allows for the continued development of the establishments, to the benefit of all.

The total value of international students to the UK economy is approximately £8.5bn (2007).  Surely students should be being encouraged to come to the UK to study, rather than being turned away?  These additional regulations, if enforced by the Government will reduce the total number of international students in the UK, resulting in less funding for universities across the country, less facilities and possible a lower standard of education for students of all levels and backgrounds. This will mean a reduction in innovative learning techniques, including use of business simulations as part of degree courses. The overall British economy will also suffer.

Tags: international students, university

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