A tightening of UK visa regulations and tougher attitudes from the Government are being blamed for the first fall in the number of overseas students studying in the UK for almost 30 years.
However, the figures from the Higher Education Funding Council showed a rise in Chinese full time postgraduate students. Overall, 74 per cent of students starting Masters degrees in 2012-13 were international students, and of these, 23 per cent were from China.
Despite the high number of Chinese students, the UK appears to be a less attractive destination for overseas students. There was a one per cent fall in the overall number of international students studying in the UK, mainly as a result of a 50 per cent fall in number of post graduate students from India and Pakistan, who are facing a more difficult application process and new restrictions on working in the UK after graduation.
The figures are leading to concerns among educators that the Government’s harsh attitudes towards immigration are putting off applicants, who are instead heading for universities in other countries where they are made more to feel more welcome, The Guardian reported.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “Ministers need to recognise that attempts to sound tough on immigration at home are also reported elsewhere – and it is not surprising if students consider studying in the countries that make an effort to welcome them.”
Her views were echoed by the National Union of Students’ international officer Daniel Stevens, who said overseas students felt unwelcome in the UK because of the Government’s “hostile and overzealous policies”.