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UK missed out on billions due to student visa restrictions – UUK

The UK economy may have lost out on billions of pounds in export earnings from international students due to immigration rule changes, according to a new analysis published by Universities UK.

The comparative growth and income figures show the UK has lost out on billions since 2012. Photo: Unsplash

Only 1/4 of British adults view international students at UK universities as immigrants

The analysis, 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.

“The UK could and should be doing much better than this”

Total international student enrolments in the UK dipped slightly in 2012-13 following the immigration rule changes and have since flatlined, the analysis commented.

The analysis considers two scenarios, one where non-EU student growth in the UK continued at the rate observed between 2008 – 2012, and another where UK non-EU student growth mirrored the growth seen in Australia post-2012.

It revealed that in 2016-17, 442,375 international students made up 19% of all students registered at UK universities, consisting of 6% from the EU and 13% from non-EU countries.

“The income and economic activity of these students resulted in £25.8 billion in output and 206,600 jobs for the UK economy in 2014-15 alone.” the analysis read.

In terms of international student enrolments, it continued, countries such as US, Australia, France and Germany all grew at a faster rate than the UK, with growth rates in 2014-15 of 9.4%, 10.7%, 1.8% and 8.7% respectively.

Over the same period, the UK’s international enrolments grew by just 0.5%

Commenting on the figures, chief executive of Universities UK Alistair Jarvis said he expected the UK to be doing “better” and called on Theresa May’s government to “reshape” the immigration system.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Jarvis’ view is that this should include improved post-study work opportunities.

“International students provide a very positive economic boost in terms of spending and jobs in communities across the UK. They enrich our campuses and the experience of UK students, both academically and culturally.

“The income and economic activity of these students resulted in £25.8bn”

“Many return home having built strong professional and personal links here that provide long-term, ‘soft power’ benefits for the UK,” he added.

UUK recently called for a visa to allow international students to gain work experience in the UK for up to two years after graduation.

The new visa would allow a wider range of employers – in all parts of the UK – to benefit from access to talented graduates from around the world, including small and medium employers who do not have Tier 2 sponsorship licences, often due to the high costs involved.

recent poll byComRes based on the views of more than 4,000 British adults, revealed also that in relation to the UK government’s immigration policy, only a quarter of British adults say that they view international students coming to study at UK universities as immigrants.

It revealed also that nearly three quarters (72%) of British adults polled think that international students should be able to stay in the UK post-graduation for one year or more to gain work experience.

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