London-based universities and post-92 institutions will be hit hardest if the crackdown on UK international student visas goes ahead, according to analysis.
The UK sector is now more dependent on international student income than during the last period of Theresa May’s Prime Ministership (2016-19), when there were serious risks to overseas recruitment. In the year In 2020-21, tuition fees from non-EU students will cost universities around £7 billion, 17 per cent of their total income – up from 16 per cent the year before, and 13 per cent in 2016-17.
Following Boris Johnson’s government’s opening to international students, successor Rishi Sunak – and particularly Home Secretary Suella Braverman – have raised concerns about the impact of student visas on overall immigration numbers.
But reports suggest any recruitment crackdown could be a target, potentially limiting international enrollment to “elite” universities.
According to a statistical analysis by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the top 200 institutions Times Higher Education The world’s top universities draw about a fifth of their income from international students. If the ministers decide to reduce the number of international students, last year they introduced a visa system for university graduates in the top 50 of the world and limit the enrollment to that advanced group only.
But non-EU fees are also important for non-academic institutions. Among the 92 post-92 universities, non-EU fees will account for around 14% of revenue in 2020-21, up slightly from last year.
And there is considerable variation in the total amount of income UK universities spend on overseas recruitment compared to universities outside the top 200. Two private institutions receive most of their income from this source – Regent’s University London and Richmond, the American International University in London. Beyond these, the University of the Arts London received 43.5% of its income from international students in 2020-21.
Other highly exposed institutions outside the world’s top 200 include Heriot-Watt University (income 38.5 per cent), Coventry University (31 per cent), the University of Sunderland (27.3 per cent) and the University of St Andrews (26.3 per cent). .
Institutions that rely heavily on international student fees
Among the 22 modern universities that make up the Million Plus group — among institutions likely to come under greater financial pressure from other sources of income — international students provide 12 percent of revenue.
“Any attempt by the government to massage immigration by restricting international students is wrong and damaging not only to modern universities, but to the UK’s higher education sector and UK plc’s global standing,” said Million Plus chief executive Rachel Hewitt.
“Since there is little evidence that these students overstay their visas, and international students are not high on the public’s list of immigration concerns, the most straightforward solution is to remove international students from the network. Migration figures, or at least to quantify them in a more nuanced way.
Non-EU student fees make up a quarter of London universities’ income.
Of all UK institutions, the University of London is dependent on the international market, spending a quarter on non-EU students.
By contrast, such students account for just 9 per cent of income in Northern Ireland.
Diana Beach, chief executive of London Higher, which represents institutions in the capital, said the income generated by international students was vital to help universities make up the growing shortfall in the cost of educating domestic students.
“Any attempt to control the number of international students coming to London would have dire consequences for the financial sustainability of many of our world-leading institutions and the hundreds of thousands of UK workers whose livelihoods depend on our university communities,” she said.
The Department for Education has reportedly made “strong pushback” against the idea of restricting international recruitment to top-tier universities, and some policymakers are questioning the feasibility of implementing such a proposal.
Many experts believe that an adverse effect of any policy in this area would be a limit on the number of dependents who can accompany a student on their visa. These numbers have increased significantly in recent years, and Ms Braverman is concerned about the “very high” number of family members “piggybacking” on student visas.
A recent report by The Times He pointed out that the Home Secretary has come up with a plan to address this by increasing the income level for each additional family member.
Home Office data shows that 70 per cent of dependents coming to the UK on study visas in 2021-22 are from Nigeria and India. Therefore, universities that rely heavily on these countries can be considered particularly vulnerable to any attack.
Universities with many students from Nigeria and India
Of all UK institutions, the University of Hertfordshire is the most popular in both countries, admitting 1,155 students from Nigeria and 4,920 from India in 2020-21 for a total of 6,075 students. This is almost 10 times the total in 2016-17.
The University of Ulster and the University of East London each have a total of over 4,000.
Hertfordshire vice-chancellor Quentin McKellar said his institution was “deeply concerned” if the government “enforced restrictions on overseas students”, pointing out that the increased recruitment was due to the government’s desire to increase and increase the number of overseas students.
“Also, at a time when we can’t afford more knock-offs, we need to acknowledge the significant negative impact a reduction in international student numbers will have on UK higher education institutions, as well as industry and the economy. The sector should be consulted before any “hasty decisions” are made, Professor McKellar said.