‘It will worsen our financial pressure,’ UK varsities oppose new immigration rule

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Universities across the United Kingdom (UK) have opposed the country’s new immigration rules for foreign students, which they say will worsen their financial pressure.

The Home Office, on Tuesday, announced that international students would no longer be able to bring family members with them from 2024.

International students on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programmes were exempted.

The UK also said overseas students would be stopped from switching from the student visa route to a work visa until their studies have been completed.

Additionally, there would be a review of the required funds students must have to demonstrate they can look after themselves and their dependents.

Suella Braverman, secretary of state for the home department, said the move was necessary to protect the UK economy.

She said although the UK was committed to supporting the economy through the economic contribution foreign students bring in, it would not be at the expense of the country.

UUK: WE’RE UNDER FINANCIAL PRESSURE | NEW RULES WILL WORSEN CASE

Reacting to the new rules, UK International (UUK), a body of universities across the UK, said the move was a threat to the country’s global success as a top destination for international talent and needed to be considered very carefully.

Jamie Arrowsmith, UUK director, said foreign students contributed largely to the economy, adding that UK nationals had a wide acceptance of international students.

“International students make an invaluable contribution to our universities and to the UK’s economy. Building on the government’s explicit commitments and ambitions, which were clearly set out in the international education strategy, we have seen significant growth since 2019,” Arrowsmith said in a statement.

“Our research shows that international students make a huge economic contribution to the UK, with a single cohort delivering a total benefit of £41.9 billion.

“We also know that the public is overwhelmingly supportive of the international students we attract – just nine percent of people think we should be discouraging international students from choosing the UK.”

While Arrowsmith said he understood the impact an unchecked influx may be having in some areas, he asked the government to explore other ways of curbing immigration that would not cripple an already weakened financial situation for the universities.

“While the vast majority of students will be unaffected by proposals that limit the ability to be accompanied by dependents, more information is needed on the programmes that are in scope before a proper assessment of the impact can be made.

“We, therefore, urge the government to work with the sector to limit and monitor the impact on particular groups of students – and on universities, which are already under serious financial pressures. The review process that has been announced must consider these issues.”

The UUK director also said the government could review eligibility for postgraduate programmes or enhance the financial assurances that prospective students are required to provide.

“Ultimately, our collective aim must be to ensure that international students who choose the UK can be confident that they are welcome here, that their contribution is valued, and that the terms on which they have made decisions remain stable. Anything that threatens to affect the UK’s global success as a top destination for international talent needs to be considered very carefully,” the statement added.