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UK: Varsities fault ban on foreign students’ families

Universities across the United Kingdom have faulted the country’s new immigration rules for foreign students shortly after the government announced new measures to tame the influx of immigrants.

On Tuesday, the UK Home Office said that international students would no longer be able to bring family members with them starting 2024.

The UK also said overseas students would be stopped from switching from the student visa route to a work visa until their studies have been completed.

But in a statement on Tuesday, the UK International (UUK) – a body of universities across the UK – said the move was a threat to the country’s global success as a top destination for international talent and needed to be considered very carefully.

Specifically, the body of universities said the development will worsen their financial pressure in the United Kingdom.

According to the UUK director, Jamie Arrowsmith, foreign students contributed largely to the economy. Arrowsmith stated that UK nationals had a wide acceptance of international students.

“International students make an invaluable contribution to our universities and to the UK’s economy. Building on the government’s explicit commitments and ambitions, which were clearly set out in the international education strategy, we have seen significant growth since 2019,” Arrowsmith said in a statement.

“Our research shows that international students make a huge economic contribution to the UK, with a single cohort delivering a total benefit of £41.9 billion.

“We also know that the public is overwhelmingly supportive of the international students we attract – just nine percent of people think we should be discouraging international students from choosing the UK.

While Arrowsmith said he understood the impact an unchecked influx may be having in some areas, he asked the government to explore other ways of curbing immigration that would not cripple an already weakened financial situation for the universities.

“While the vast majority of students will be unaffected by proposals that limit the ability to be accompanied by dependents, more information is needed on the programmes that are in scope before a proper assessment of the impact can be made.

“We, therefore, urge the government to work with the sector to limit and monitor the impact on particular groups of students – and on universities, which are already under serious financial pressures. The review process that has been announced must consider these issues.”

“Ultimately, our collective aim must be to ensure that international students who choose the UK can be confident that they are welcome here, that their contribution is valued, and that the terms on which they have made decisions remain stable. Anything that threatens to affect the UK’s global success as a top destination for international talent needs to be considered very carefully,” the statement added.

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