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The UK’s unwelcoming policies to international students

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9:45 AM | 11 November 2016
by Juan Cruz Tauber
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During the last couple of years, the UK immigration policies have been tightened resulting in augmented difficulties for students from abroad to study and obtain jobs after graduating. This article will offer a summary on how these regulations have evolved over the last half-decade and its results in the UK education sector.

"Non-EU students who opt to settle in the UK for their tertiary studies amount to 18% of the total number of those in higher education".

Statistics have been continuously presenting the positive economic outcomes of hosting international students in universities across the UK. Non-EU students who opt to settle in the UK for their tertiary studies amount to 18% of the total number of those in higher education. According to studies conducted by PwC, overseas students contribute to a net gain of £2.3 bn and support over 70,000 jobs in London only. Despite being far from a burden to national public services, like the NHS, and providing large portions of income to the economy, Britain’s immigration system has been increasingly hardening its regulations for internationals.

"Overseas students contribute to a net gain of £2.3bn and support over 70,000 jobs in London only".

In previous years, foreign students had access to more flexible immigration laws after successfully completing a degree in the country. Such graduates were offered the opportunity to receive a Tier-1 post-study work visa, which allowed them to remain and work in the UK for two years past their studies. This agreement provided plenty of time for internationals to find an occupation, gain significant work experience, and find a qualified sponsor to guarantee a longer stay.

However, in 2010, the Conservative party began to apply strict regulations to control the number of foreigners settling in the UK. In doing so, the government focused on slashing the post-study stay of international students, resulting in less than 100,000 non-European immigrants to enter the country every year. Following this venture, in 2012, the government effectively removed the prolonged post-study visa and replaced it with a new Tier-2 working visa. These xenophobic alternations progressed steadily over the following years.

Nowadays, individuals from abroad must rely on a Tier-4 student visa, which offers them only 4 months to seek a job opportunity following the completion of their degrees. Furthermore, ever since her involvement in the national government, Theresa May has been notoriously opposed to internationals. During her role as a home secretary, she was responsible for tightening visa regulations and requirements. Unfortunately for non-nationals, she became the new Prime Minister following David Cameron’s resignation, with the main objective on reducing even further the number of foreigners settling in the country after their studies.

"Studies estimate that the costs of declining such students amount to over £8bn".

The British visa system is known as one of the least welcoming structures across the globe. By applying stricter regulations, the national higher education sectors will lose a large percentage of international students to other nations, which alternatively will have negative outcomes in the UK’s growth sector. Studies estimate that the costs of declining such students amount to over £8bn, and this figure excludes the impact of skills shortage across the economy.

"The British government should embrace the potential benefits of hosting international students".

Rather than establishing hard regulations and making it almost impossible for expats to gain job opportunities after their studies, the British government should embrace the potential benefits of hosting international students. The UK should adapt a more flexible climate for genuine internationals as they contribute to its growth both academically and financially. Most importantly, international students should be perceived as contributors to the nation’s leading markets and multicultural society.

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