For the first time in three decades, the number of international students attending England’s universities has dropped significantly, a study said Wednesday, with students from India and Pakistan hit by tighter visa rules.
New official figures provided further evidence that Indian students are staying away from British universities, adding fresh impetus to demands that international students be excluded from the David Cameron government’s measures to cut immigration.
The new figures released by Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) said that since 2010-11, there had been a drop of 51% in the number of Indian students enrolling on English universities. The drop has mainly been for courses in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Edward Acton, vice-chancellor of the University of East Anglia and a leading figure in the discourse on international students and the government’s student visa policy, told HT: “I am deeply concerned by the latest figures but, regrettably, not at all surprised; the words of a Home Secretary spoken in the House of Commons take only seconds to reach the newspapers of India and have the potential to do untold damage to long-established and cherished relationships”.
The HEFCE report titled ‘Global Demand for English Higher Education’ said: “While English higher education remains popular worldwide, there has been a decline in the growth of international recruitment since 2010. This is the first significant slowdown in the past 29 years”.
Responding to the report, Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), said: “As we face continued uncertainty about the future of funding for our universities, the government should be doing more to encourage foreign students”.
HEFCE said the drop in Indian students had been accompanied by a significant rise in the number of Indians going to universities in the United States and Australia.