LONDON, UK — According to a detailed account by Nesrine Malik in The Guardian, the UK’s immigration policies continue to harden, making it increasingly difficult for international students to study in the country. This occurs despite their significant contribution to the British economy and their uncontestable value to the higher education system.

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UK seeks to stop overseas students bringing family to UK in bid to curb migration.

Key Takeaways

  • Despite their economic contributions, international students face harsh immigration restrictions that disrupt their family lives.
  • The UK government is targeting the number of student visas issued to curb overall immigration, with new policies preventing students from bringing dependents.
  • International students significantly subsidize the UK’s higher education system, making up 17% of university income in 2020-21.
  • The decision to tighten the rules has attracted criticism, with many arguing it ignores the economic and cultural value these students bring to the UK.

New Visa Rules Could Disrupt International Student Lives

In a move criticized as insensitive, the UK government plans next year to bar international students, with few exceptions, from bringing their dependents when they come to study. This restriction could drastically impact the lives of many students, particularly those with children or who rely on the support of their partners. In 2022, nearly 500,000 visas were issued to international students, with more than 135,000 immediate family members accompanying them.

The Economic Impact of International Students

International students represent a significant revenue stream for UK universities and the broader economy. They pay considerable sums to the National Health Service (NHS) and demonstrate in advance that they will not be a burden on the state. Research from 2021 showed that just 10 non-EU students studying in the UK would generate £1m of economic impact during their studies through fees, consumer spending, and job creation after accounting for their use of public services.

In the academic year 2020-21, non-EU student fees constituted 17% of UK universities’ income. With their tuition fees averaging around £22,000 a year, these international students effectively cross-subsidizing domestic students’ education.

Rising Concerns over the Exploitation of International Students

The issue has raised concerns about the exploitation of international students, with critics arguing that the high fees they pay are “scandalously divorced” from the actual cost of education delivery. Despite the criticism, the UK government appears to be overlooking international students’ cultural and economic value, focusing instead on reducing migration numbers.

In closing, while international students embody much of what Brexit aimed for – like strengthening ties with the Commonwealth and boosting local industries – they seem to be viewed by the government primarily as “economic units” whose family lives can be disrupted for immigration figures.

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UK Universities Warned Against Overdependence on Chinese Student Fees

A Friendship Overseas: College Students in Ukraine and the U.S. Build New Relationships in a Time of War

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