With international enrollments “flatlining” in the UK, universities are pushing for the return of post-study visas which would allow students to remain in the country for a period of up to two years following their studies. Here’s a closer look at the situation, as recently reported by The Guardian.
Toward “A Competitive Edge”
Currently, 450,000 international students study in Britain every year, including 134,835 from the EU. However, according to Universities UK, the UK is falling behind its competitors when it comes to drawing more overseas students.
“The UK remains an extremely popular destination for international students, attracting more students from abroad except the much larger US. However, the UK’s closest competitors, such as the USA, Australia, France and Germany, all continue to grow at a faster rate in the UK.”
Specifically, while student numbers have increased by just 0.5 percent in the UK, they have risen by 10.7 percent, 9.4 percent, and 8.7 percent in Australia, the US, and Germany, respectively.
Sending a Sign
According to Sir Steve Smith, chairman of Universities UK’s international policy network, the reintroduction of a new time-limited visa would send a “hell of a signal” to the world that the UK is open to them.
Without such a demonstration, meanwhile, uncertainty may lead to stagnation. Smith says, “I think we are in danger of losing our position as one of the world leaders in international education. The market is buoyant, but the UK is flatlining in terms of international students.”
“The UK as a country needs to make it clear that international students are absolutely welcome. I think now is the time, when we are 29 weeks from Brexit allegedly, to make a grand statement about welcoming in a new era where global talent can come to this country, study, work afterwards and thereby deal with the number-one issue with the economy, which is productivity, allowing those skilled workers enter the workforce,” Smith continues.
Smith cited the example of countries like US, Canada and Australia, each of which allows graduates to stay and work in the country for a set period of time after graduation.
The UK’s university minister Sam Gyimah has also recently made comments calling for increased efforts to attract international students to the UK.