UK immigration
"If the UK is to remain competitive on the global stage, any new system will need to open up more immigration routes for international graduates," says immigration solicitor, Anne Morris. Source: Shutterstock

It’s well-known across the globe that international students give countries a hefty economic boost.

So why would the UK choose to lose billions in export earnings by  forcing global learners to take their talent elsewhere?

Rapid immigration rule changes from the government mean this loss could be hard to win back.

As The Pie News writes, “New analysis by Universities UK, which looks at the impact of changes to UK student migration policy made in 2012 – when the government scrapped the post-study work visa – estimated that the country may have lost more than £8 billion in the period 2013-17.”

Has the UK said ‘cheerio’ to valuable export earnings? Source: Anthony DELANOIX/Unsplash

The Universities UK report suggests that “Two scenarios are considered, one where non-EU student growth in the UK continued at the rate observed between 2008–2012, prior to immigration rule changes and the other where UK non-EU student growth mirrored the growth seen in Australia in this period.”

To further dissect the issue, The Pie News sought comment from the Chief Executive of Universities UK, Alistair Jarvis.

As Jarvis explains, “Since 2011, countries such as Australia, Canada, and the US have seen high growth in international demand for study, while the total number of enrolled international students in the UK has stayed flat.

“The UK could and should be doing much better than this. To keep up with competitors, the UK government needs to promptly develop a reshaped immigration system that recognises the value of international students as temporary visitors and tells the world that they are welcome here,” he adds.

Such a loss may be detrimental to the UK economy and the future of its international education providers.

If international student interest remains stagnant and no improvements are made, this issue may evolve into an economic catastrophe for the UK.

Inclusion in immigration numbers is another bone of contention for UK-bound international students and institutions alike. “Most people in the sector don’t think that makes sense. It’s something that could be addressed at government-level,” Andy Nicol, Managing Director of QS Enrolment Solutions told Study International.

“I think there’s been some promising announcements in the UK in terms of government policy. I think there’s been a commitment from the government to look at streamlining the visa process for 10 or so key countries. However, I think there’s an unintended consequence of visa ‘tightening’, for want of a better word, that impacts the perception of how welcoming or otherwise a country is,” he explained.

“I hope the UK can address that through government policy and more creative ways of delivering.”

As a current or prospective international student, what do you think the UK should do to up its game?

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