UK sees drop in international student applications

Recent statistics from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) reveal a decline in applications from Indian students…reports Asian Lite News

Universities in the UK are reporting a significant drop in applications from international students. This comes amid concerns that the government might restrict the graduate visa programme, which allows international graduates to work in the UK for up to three years after studies.

The British Universities’ International Liaison Association surveyed 75 universities and found that 90% of them had seen a drop in applications from international students. There was a 27% drop in total applications by international students for postgraduate courses compared to last year.

The government is going to take a call on the graduate visa programme, depending on the findings of a report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) due to be delivered to it on Tuesday.

The Home Office has commissioned the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review this post-study work visa, as the programme is commonly referred to.

Recent statistics from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) reveal a decline in applications from Indian students to British universities for courses this year. Applications from India to British universities witnessed a 4% drop.

The reason for this decline is attributed to various factors, including ongoing reviews announced by the Rishi Sunak-led government into the Graduate Route visa, which allows graduates to stay and gain work experience for at least two years after their degree.

The UK’s relook on the education policy for international students is potentially turning them away from applying to British universities.

In the student visa category, Indian nationals represent the largest group of students granted leave to remain on this route, making up 43% of grants last year.

However, applications from India fell to 8,770, a drop of 4%, compared to the previous year. An organisation representing Indian students in the UK has also launched a campaign advocating for the continuation of the graduate route visa that allows people to work there after their education.

“International students are incredibly important to UK culture. They contribute a huge amount to universities, to the economy, to skills and jobs and we think it would be a tragedy – calamitous not just for institutions but actually for the UK as a whole – if the government took what would actually be quite unnecessary further action to restrict the number of international students,” said Sally Mapstone, the vice-chancellor of St Andrews University and president of Universities UK, reported the Guardian.

The UK creative industries are particularly concerned about the potential loss of talented graduates. Creative UK, representing the creative sector valued at £108 billion annually, warns that axing or limiting this visa could deter international students from choosing the UK for their studies.

A joint letter by Creative UK, a not-for-profit organisation that supports the creative industries in the UK, and Universities UK, an advocacy organisation for universities in the United Kingdom, urges the government to maintain the graduate visa programme.

“The graduate visa is one of the few routes left which enables talented graduates to stay and contribute to our growing creative industries,” the letter states, reported the Guardian.

The British Academy has told the MAC that taking away the graduate visa would “stifle the vibrancy of the UK’s academic and research landscape”.

This, coupled with an ongoing drop in international student numbers, could jeopardise the financial stability of universities, leading to course closures and job cuts.

“We are fully focused on striking the right balance between acting decisively to tackle net migration and attracting the brightest students to our universities, recognising the significant contribution they make to the UK,” said a UK government spokesperson, reported the Guardian.

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