The United Kingdom is a world leader in higher education. According to the most recent data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UK is home to four of the world’s top ten universities. In addition, nearly 20% of all students enrolled in higher education in the UK are international students, making it the second most popular destination for international students after the United States.
Despite the UK’s reputation as a global leader in higher education, the number of international students enrolling in UK universities has declined in recent years. In the 2016-2017 academic year, there was a 5% decrease in the number of international students enrolling in UK universities compared to the previous year. This trend is concerning for several reasons. First and foremost, it threatens the quality of UK universities as they rely on international students to help offset the costs of educating domestic students. Second, it risks damaging the UK’s economy as international students contribute an estimated £26 billion ($35 billion) annually. Finally, it undermines the UK’s efforts to build strong relationships with other countries worldwide.
So why are fewer international students choosing to study in the UK? Several factors play a role. Here are some of those factors.
One of the most recent and impactful developments is the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, commonly referred to as Brexit. Brexit’s uncertainty has contributed to a decline in the pound’s value, making studying in the UK more expensive for international students. In addition, there are concerns about how Brexit will affect access to scholarships, funding opportunities, and work opportunities post-graduation.
Rising tuition fees
In recent years, the UK government has allowed universities to raise their tuition fees for domestic and international students. This has led to a significant increase in the cost of studying at UK universities, particularly for overseas students.
Heightened immigration policies
The UK government’s tightened immigration policies have also hurt international student enrollment. The UK’s Tier 4 visa, which international students must obtain to study in the UK, has become more difficult to secure due to tighter restrictions and increased scrutiny.
The Benefits of International Students
There are many reasons why having more international students studying in the UK would be beneficial. First and foremost, international students add diversity to university campuses. This is important not only from an educational standpoint—exposure to different cultures and perspectives helps broaden horizons—but also from a social standpoint. A more diverse student body makes for a more vibrant university community.
In addition to adding diversity, international students also bring much-needed financial resources to UK universities. Domestic tuition fees only cover a fraction of the cost of educating each student. Hence, universities rely on income from other sources, such as research grants and private donations, to make a difference. International students pay considerably more than domestic students—on average, nearly twice as much—so they play an essential role in ensuring that universities have enough money to maintain their high education standards.
Finally, having more international students studying in the UK would help build strong relationships with other countries worldwide. These relationships are essential for both economic and political reasons. Economically, they provide opportunities for trade and investment. Politically, they can help promote stability and understanding between different cultures and religions, which is needed now more than ever, given recent events such as Brexit and terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.
The evidence is clear: if UK universities are to remain competitive on a global scale, they need to do more to attract international students back to our shores. But this is about more than just economics; it’s about building bridges between cultures and promoting understanding between different nations. So here are some tips for bringing more immigrant students into the country.
Most international students who want to apply for a visa don’t know how to handle it. By giving these students experienced education consultants, they can better understand when submitting the requirements when enrolling in certain universities. Additionally, these consultants can provide them with more options as to which universities they can apply to, thereby increasing their chances of acceptance.
Offer more scholarships and funding opportunities for international students from underrepresented countries. This can make studying in the UK more financially feasible for these students.
Targeted Marketing Campaigns
Create targeted marketing campaigns, both online and in person, to attract international students from specific regions or countries. This can be done through partnerships with education agencies or high schools in those areas and social media advertising targeting potential international students.
Post-graduation Employment Options
Increase the availability of post-graduation employment options for international students, making it easier for them to stay and work in the UK after they have completed their studies. This can help attract more international students, as they know they will have opportunities to stay and build a career, the UK is a more attractive option for international students, and will bring numerous benefits to universities and the wider community. So let’s work towards increasing diversity on campus and strengthening relationships with other countries—bring on the international students!