International Student enrollment drop may impact the UK economy

Written by on 19th February 2024

International student enrollments saw a drop from last year, despite having 115,730 applicants from countries outside the UK this past academic year.

A big deterrent for these students, who according to the government bring in massive economic support, are the ever-increasing tuition costs.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland, said: “The growth in international numbers in Sunderland has been a deliberate strategy, as part of the University’s approach to managing financial and competitive risk.

“International students make a significant contribution to the institution and that should be better recognised by the current government.”

The UK government estimates that 140,000 fewer international students will choose to study in the UK. This follows the new laws implemented at the beginning of the year.

They outline that students will “no longer be able to bring family members” and they have been “banned from using the student visa as a backdoor route to work in the UK”.

Universities UK stated that the economic impact of international students is huge.

In the 21/22 academic year, they brought in a total net benefit of £37.4 billion.

Another issue contributing to the drop in enrollment could be the total costs of living having a larger discrepancy at some educational establishments.

For example, at the University of Cambridge, students from abroad could be expected to pay upwards of £63,990, while domestic students have tuition capped at £9,250.

Loo Yuk Ling, an international student on the Sunderland BA (Hons) Journalism undergraduate course, said: “Tuition fees and visa applications are getting ridiculously expensive, why are international students paying two times more, something three times more than home students?”

Mah Bibi Ahmed, studying the Business in Marketing and Management course at Sunderland, when asked about the difference in tuition payments said: “It’s quite unfair as we are already paying enough for visas and other documentation, and we are paying this in lump sum amounts.”

“In fact domestic students have the government paying for them,” Ms. Ahmed is referring to the large amount of student loans UK students receive.

She added: “They don’t even return the amount, only when they make a specific amount of income.”

The government expects around 600,000 students for enrollment per year, but the growing cost of living could be another concern for prospective students.

Ms. Ling expressed fear of remaining in the UK after graduating because of new requirements put forth by the immigration office.

Aguara, studying MSc International Business Management at Sunderland, believes that policies are put in place, contributing to tuition costs, stem from funding structures and subsidies offered.

She said: “This approach helps fund educational institutions, however, it does raise issues of affordability and inclusivity for international students.”

Mrunali Sharad Kalhbor, an international student studying an undergraduate in Film Production at the University of Sunderland, said: “I had to take out a loan to help pay my tuition, but the UK provides lots of funds and scholarships for international students to afford their tuition.”

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