UK Immigration: Debate on the Treatment of International Students

For the past few months, the treatment of international students has been a big part of the immigration debate. Everything from removing international students from immigration figures, to the UK needing to be more welcoming and to the immigration bill being discriminatory towards students, has been debated. All of these have been the reasons discussed when trying to explain the fall in the number of international students coming to the UK. The closure of the Post-Study Work (PSW) route by the Home Office in April 2012, has also been debated as having an impact on the number of students coming to the UK. There have been a number of changes in the number of students migrating to the UK over the last decade.

Impact of Tier 1 PSW Route Closure

Tier 1 PSW migrants scheme officially ended on 5 April 2012 and for the first time in 30 years the number of international students coming to the UK has declined. The number of first year students from India coming to the UK has dropped by 25%, meaning in the last two years the number of first year students from India in the UK has sharply declined by 49%. According to HESA’s student data, 39,090 Indian students were enrolled in British universities in 2010-11 for a postgraduate degree but this number fell to 29,900 in 2011-12. Number of Pakistani students fell by 13.4% while those from Saudi Arabia fell by 4%.

Ranjan Mathai, India’s High Commissioner, has stated that visa restrictions on students’ right to work after finishing their courses is just one of the reasons international students are choosing to go elsewhere.

“Many of the students who I’ve had an interaction with feel that if they’d had a chance to pay their way by staying on for a year – which the system before allowed – then it would make their taking loans and coming to the UK for education more worthwhile, more possible. That’s one reason the numbers have gone down.”

Despite the decline of students coming from India and Pakistan, there are are number of nationalities that have seen an increase. In the year ending March 2014, the number of student visas issued to Chinese students was 4,720. 

Nicola Dandridge: UK Need to be More Welcoming to International Students

Whilst the UK Government has closed the PSW route, there are a number of countries around the world that are using the route to attract the international students. Australia is looking to extend the PSW route, America are planning to increase post-study work options for graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. In France they have extended the time from six months to a year non-EU graduates have to look for work.

The drop in the number of international migrants in the UK has also caught the attention of others in the UK. Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK stated:

“What is clear from this is that, if the UK wants to fulfil its potential in this growth area, it must present a welcoming climate for genuine international students and ensure that visa and immigration rules are consistent and properly communicated.”

Successful UK Student Visa Applications for International Students

Our team of experienced and professionally qualified immigration solicitors and barristers will be able to guide you through the process of making a student visa application step by step and limit the possibility of failure by complying with the strict letter of law.

Contact us so that we can review your case and provide you with an assessment.

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