In news reports yesterday, the House of Lords Science & Technology Committee announced that they will be investigating whether UK’s immigration laws are preventing international students from choosing to study in the UK and whether immigration laws have been communicated effectively. Figures released yesterday by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reveal that the number of non-EU students at UK universities fell by 1% last year, the first such decline ever recorded. Results of independent studies such as one carried out by YouthSight are consistent with the opinion that the UK government’s migration cap makes overseas students feel less welcome in the country.
UK Immigration Policy Under House of Lords Microscope
The House of Lords Science & Technology Committee’s inquiry has come as a result of lobbying by the Imperial College Union who have been campaigning against the Immigration Bill since last November. The Union believe that the Immigration Bill will have a negative impact on international students and it is time that the UK’s immigration policies are looked at to see if they are causing the decline of international students in the UK.
The House of Lords Science & Technology Committee’s inquiry will focus on international students studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects and have requested written evidence from universities across the UK to be sent to them.
HESA Statistics: Decline of International Students in the UK
The decrease in the number of non-EU students in 2012-13 has fallen significantly, as revealed in HESA figures. Statistics show that the number of Indian students enrolled in their first year dropped by 25%. This means that the number of first year Indian students fell from 23,985 in 2010-11 to 12,280 in 2012-13. This will heighten concerns amongst universities who have become accustomed to frequent and notable rises in non-EU student’s tuition fees, as India is the second largest source of non-EU students for British universities, behind China. Contrary to the dip in Indian students, the number of first year Chinese students in 2012-13 rose 6%.
Significant Contribution by International Students to UK Economy
Last year October, Daniel Stevens, an NUS International Student’s Officer International noted on the NUS Connect website that international students contribute £7.9 billion (BIS 2012) to the UK economy. International students make up less than 1% of the UK population but contribute an amount almost 7% of the total NHS budget of £108.9 billion.
Speaking after the announcement of the Lord’s inquiry, Daniel Stevens stated:
“…the inquiry will provide an important avenue to show how detrimental the Immigration Bill is for international students. It is an excellent development in the continued fight against the Immigration Bill.”
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