A record number of visas are being issued to non-EU students, particularly Indian nationals, and their families, prompting the UK Prime Minister to consider limiting the country's admission of international students. In June 2022, the number of visas issued to Indian students increased by 215% compared to 2019. A total of 4,86,868 sponsored study visas were approved, a 71% increase over 2019.
However, experts have cautioned Sunak that reducing the intake may impoverish UK colleges that depend on foreign students for funding, according to a story in the Times of India.
When asked if the government had any plans to reduce the number of international students admitted, the deputy PM spokesperson responded that they were carefully examining the data and would be considering all alternatives to make sure the immigration system was benefiting the British people. The official added, "That includes looking at the issue of student dependents and low quality degrees."
But according to Professor Brian Bell, the head of the UK government's advisory committee on immigration, most universities lose money on the majority of the courses they teach to British students but make up the losses by charging more to international students, according to a BBC Radio 4 interview. If the international channel is shut off, he claimed, it is uncertain whether the universities will survive. According to Tim Bradshaw, CEO of the Russell Group, which is made up of 24 universities in the UK, policies that limit or restrict the number of international students that can attend UK universities would be bad for local economies.
In an interview with The National, Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost of Imperial College London, referred to overseas students as "irreplaceable." If anything, he claimed, the nation will require at least 150,000 more scientists and technicians by the year 2030 in order to achieve its scientific objectives. They also can't afford to lose the contribution that overseas students make to the UK economy, he added.
Vice-chancellor at the University of Hull, Professor Dave Petley, called the action "foolhardy." He called the action "nonsensical and unhelpful" and called it disheartening.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has previously voiced her displeasure with international students bringing in family members who would rely on their student visas and support subpar programmes at subpar universities.