The UK Government has proposed a plan to reduce the number of international students in British universities from an average of 300,000 to 170,000 by imposing tougher regulations on visa applications.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, proposed the idea in October last year at the Conservative Party Conference.
UK Visas and Immigration is implementing this by toughening judgments made on visa applications. Some are being refused for not knowing the library opening hours or the name of the vice-chancellor of the university. Others are being asked why they are applying to study internationally when their own country offers the exact same course.
University managers have voiced concerns about these new regulations. Glasgow University’s vice chancellor said: “Some applicants are being asked questions we would never ask a domestic student... about what they will be doing at 25 and 30 and what they will be earning at 40.”
These effects follow the recent Brexit vote. The vice chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, Professor Alistair Fitt stated that a hard Brexit “would probably be the biggest disaster for the university sector for many years.”
According to Universities UK, international students bring in more than £10.7 billion to the UK economy, and reducing international students could cost the UK £2 billion a year, according to the Higher Education Policy Institute.
The Institute published a study which estimated that 20,000 potential students could be discouraged from applying to universities by restrictions on visas. As a result, the UK as a whole would lose £500 million in tuition fees, and £600 million on rent and food a year.
Alistair Jarvis, deputy chief of Universities UK stated: “This report provides a stark warning of the potential economic loss associated with policies that restrict European or international student numbers. If universities are to continue to boost the economy and benefit communities, they need the right support from the government.”