International students no longer feel welcome in Britain as a result of the changes to the UK visa system, it has been revealed.
A report conducted by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) questioned 5,000 overseas university and college students and discovered that 19 per cent disagreed with the statement that 'the UK welcomes well-qualified international students'. A further 20 per cent were found to neither agree nor disagree, suggesting that sentiment is not particularly positive regarding Britain as a place to study.
The paper's authors suggested that it is “a very real cause of concern” that nearly four in ten well-qualified students who successfully gained places and UK visas did not endorse the statement.
Meanwhile, 52 per cent said they had encountered confusion or difficulties with their application due to changes in the UK visa system; although 70 per cent said that the application process was quick and efficient, which is an improvement on the 59 per cent who expressed this view in 2009.
Professor Paul Webley, chair of UKCISA, commented: “All of the students we surveyed qualified for visas. All of them wanted to come to the UK. Many of them will be the brightest and the best, accepted by our leading colleges and universities.
“It is essential, therefore, that we get these processes right, for the sake of continued growth in the sector and promote the message that in this field the UK is very much open for business.”
He added that both the education sector and the country as a whole are widely recognised to benefit from international students, making the reports finding “a major cause for concern”.