A research study carried out by London Economics, and jointly published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Kaplan International Pathways, found that the benefits of international students were spread across the UK economy. The study involved an in-depth analysis of the costs and benefits of having over 230,000 international students who study in various disciplines in the U.K. every year. It was found that even as they had the greatest impact on the London economy, generating a staggering £4.6 billion net, they also had a positive impact across the entire country. Overall, international students contribute approximately £20.3 billion every year to the UK economy, while the cost of hosting international students amounts to £2.3 billion. This means that the returns are 10 times higher than the investment.
In the words of Nick Hillman, the director of Higher Education Policy Institute: “International students bring economic benefits to the UK that are worth 10 times the costs of hosting them. In the past the Home Office has not accepted figures on the benefits on the grounds that they ignore the costs”. Previously, it was not known that the costs of hosting international students were so limited.
Prime Minister May is now under pressure to take international students out of net migration targets. This was a policy that was unwelcome to many, as they felt it harmed the university sector and created a false notion that Britain does not welcome overseas students. Later this year, it is expected that an amendment will be introduced to immigration legislation, in favour of removing students from the migration numbers. There is now greater hope that the visa policies for international students will be relaxed, allowing for more number of international students to be able to study in the country.
A report was also released on the pilot visa scheme for international students that would help them start their job search early on. The scheme was introduced in 2016 on a pilot basis in four British varsities – Oxford, Bath, Cambridge and Imperial College London. In December 2017 the scheme has been extended to 23 universities. These universities will follow the pilot scheme for their 2018-19 intake, which is effective from January 2018. This pilot scheme will streamline the process for international students who are undertaking a Master’s degree course of 13 months or less in the UK. Additionally, under this scheme, Indian and other non-EU students will get an additional six months to find a job and switch to a work visa after finishing their course.
Britain’s Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said: “I am delighted to announce the expansion of this pilot which is part of our ongoing activity to ensure that our world-leading institutions remain highly competitive.” He reiterated that the UK is the second most popular destination for international students, and the number of students has increased by 24 per cent since 2010.
The following are the 23 universities in the UK that are a part of the student visa pilot scheme:
1. Newcastle University
2. Queen’s University Belfast
3. University of Sheffield
4. University of Leicester
5. University of East Anglia
6. University of Liverpool
7. The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
8. University of Bristol
9. Durham University
10. University of Edinburgh
11. University of Essex
12. University of Exeter
13. University of Glasgow
14. University of Manchester
15. University of Nottingham
16. University of Reading
17. University of Southampton
18. University of Wales Trinity St. David (Swansea Campus)
19. University of Warwick
20. University of York
21. Goldsmiths University of London
22. Harper Adams University
23. Cardiff University
This is a clear indicator from the Government that genuine students are welcome and there is no limit placed on numbers of international students. All those who are gearing up to study abroad and wish to study in the UK can now redouble their efforts for getting admission in any of these prestigious colleges!