The people of the UK have made their voices heard. With Brexit’s implementation, however, economic data has indicated that Britain is taking a serious hit in this self-serving venture – with even former proponents unsure as to whether it was worth leaving the European Union after all. Despite pledges of ‘sunlit uplands’, the UK has yet to achieve a state where its borders are in complete control.

With the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, it’s clear that immigration remains a contentious topic across party lines. Everyone is in agreement on one thing – reducing migration numbers should be a top priority. The latest report indicated a stunning rise in net migration to an unprecedented level of 504,000. This influx was largely due to the contribution from Hong Kong, Ukraine and international students along with their accompanying dependents.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is looking to reduce immigration through a series of measures that would limit the number of international students and their dependents accepted into top universities. Staying true to its 2019 manifesto of decreasing the immigration numbers in Britain.

No 10, Downing Street

Rishi Sunak is determined to reduce immigration levels, including a special focus on the issue of student dependents and any potential ‘low-quality’ degrees. Though what these terms mean exactly remains uncertain for now.

Sunak’s Offical Spokesperson

It is similar to Home Secretary Suella Braverman proposal who has been looking into a proposal that would reduce the number of family members who may join foreign students during their studies in Britain. She had voiced concern about how these individuals can ‘piggyback’ on student visas and open up pathways for substandard institutions to provide inadequate education.

Rishi Sunak’s new plans have faced fierce opposition from various organizations advocating for the UK to continue embracing international students, warning that restricting their numbers could be economically costly.

Restrictions on international students attending universities could pose a financial risk to many lesser-known institutions that depend heavily on their tuition fees. However, reducing dependents joining the students during courses is likely to win more public approval. International students pursuing an undergraduate degree may not bring any dependents with them. However, post-graduate students (PhD or MA) now allowed to bring dependents, the number of visas issued has dramatically increased from 20K to 70-80K.

International students attract a delicate balance of admiration and scrutiny. They are desired by universities yet remain the center of attention in immigration debates, creating an intricate paradox at their core.

International students bring a wealth of benefits to universities and local economies, from their research capacity, cultural insight and monetary contributions. They typically pay three times more than the course fee for domestic student fees as well cover all living costs -providing hard-pressed universities with an extra financial lifeline which helps boost surrounding regions too.

Despite the competition, there is tremendous potential in the multi-billion dollar global higher education market. Nations around the world such as UK, US, Australia and Canada are competing to lure top students who can pay high fees.

Universities UK’s recent analysis proves just how valuable international students are to the British economy. Not only do they contribute £26 billion per year, but also a whopping £3 billion in taxes and create 206,000 jobs. They’re not only good for business – home university goers benefit from their invaluable cultural knowledge too!

The government is targeting a dramatic rise in international education over the next decade. By 2030, they aim to increase “education exports” to an estimated £35 billion and bring international student numbers up to 600,000 annually – figures that have already been met!

Rishi Sunak’s economic plan has come under fire from prominent Conservative figures such as former education ministers David Willets, Jo Johnson, Justine Greening and Chris Skidmore.

Domestic students benefit greatly from the contributions of international students to research and development advancements in universities


The impact of reducing the number of international students in Britain was recently discussed between Greening and 12 vice-chancellors, who collectively warned that it could have major consequences on its economy, productivity, and reputation as a world leading universaries.

International students hoping to study in the UK must pass strict visa checks and prove their financial capability. In particular, those looking to come with a spouse and two young children will need an impressive budget of over £30,500 just for filing the application! Studying or living in London and bringing dependents to the UK requires a larger budget than those looking for shorter stays. Applicants need evidence of tens of thousands more funds than what is at the lower end of this spectrum in order to gain entry into Britain.

International students are an invaluable part of our nation’s economy, making up a whopping 70% of education export earnings. These figures demonstrate the crucial role they play in both supporting and rebuilding the country which is why cutting international student numbers would be counterproductive to achieving that goal. International students are more than just beneficial to the economy – they provide essential job opportunities across Britain and enrich university campuses with their diverse perspectives. Ignoring this incredible resource of talent in our cities would be a costly mistake, as it risks leaving behind some of the very communities that need economic support most.

Vivienne Stern – Chief Executive of Universities UK