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Day 2: International students

Barriers to studying in the UK for international students

In 2014-2015, 436,585 international students came to the UK to study a first degree, and the UK is the second most popular destination for international students in the world after the USA.

It goes without saying that universities rely a lot on income from international students. But it’s not just universities who benefit financially from international students – research has shown that in London alone, international student bring a £2.3 billion net benefit to the economy.

Ugo talks to Class about his future ambitions, student fees, and the sacrifices his parents have made to allow him to study in the UK – watch below:

In our interview, Ugo expressed his concern that Brexit would affect his fees, and might make them even higher. Although there have been no announcements on fees, international students often have ‘in-course’ fee increases that leave them unable to effectively plan their finances. 

The categories of student fees may well change after Brexit, but we don’t know if EU students will be expected to pay international fees, or if EU and international fees will be levelled out.

Universities also rely heavily on EU funding for research. Phillip Hammond announced this week that the government will be guaranteeing EU funding where UK organisations are competitively bidding – which includes universities participating in Horizon 2020.  However, this won’t last forever, and it is entirely possible that universities will seek to soften the blow to their funding by increasing student fees, although charging EU students international fees would be the simplest option.

International students like Ugo have an important role to play in the UK. Not only are they coming here to educate themselves, but to find employment here after they graduate. Despite the significant financial boost that international students give the UK economy, many continue to find the immigration system complicated and inflexible. We need to be mindful that we don’t miss out on talented UK educated graduates by making decisions on immigration policy that don’t reflect the facts.