Save the International Students

The international student’s visa issue in the UK has been creating uproars after Theresa May from the HE Home office has stated explicitly that, Tier 21 Visa immigrants who hail from outside EEA area should be able to show an earning not less than £35000. This will allow them to qualify to stay in the UK (permanent residence) or leave which have not been accepted by many. This is primary to cut down on Indian and Pakistan-based Asian students who already have seen a drop in 2012, 38% and 62% respectively. The logic of Theresa May is to attract the brightest and best for UK economic growth through the section of international students is, however, draws criticisms. While she pointed a comparison of 10000 migrant workers in 1997, which now swelled to 84000 in 2011, there are issues that are hurting the aspirations of the international students to obtain a degree2.

Top non-EU sending countries

Country 2013-14 2012-13
China (PRC) 87,895 83,790
India 19,750 22,385
Nigeria 18,020 17,395
Malaysia 16,635 15,015
United States of America 16,485 16,235
Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region) 14,725 13,065
Saudi Arabia 9,060 9,440
Singapore 6,790 6,020
Pakistan 6,665 7,185
Canada 6,350 6,190


Top EU sending countries

Country 2013-14 2012-13
Germany 14,060 14,520
France 11,500 11,725
Republic of Ireland 11,490 12,620
Greece 10,670 10,910
Cyprus 10,295 10,840
Italy 9,550 8,320
Spain 6,585 5,995
Romania 6,515 6,460
Bulgaria 6,355 6,060
Poland 5,200 5,280

Alarming migration levels in the UK needs to distinguish between the brightest amongst the skilled labourers. The students settling down at lower wages, even with lower skill set than that which is expected is a point to counter Theresa May, which is a prerogative of an employer. Incidentally, David Cameron is consciously trying to reduce the present numbers of 250,000 entering the UK each year down to 100,000 before the new rule goes live on 6th April 2016.  So the new immigration rules at a glance:

  • Pay threshold of £35000 to all wishing to work and stay in the UK
  • Not meeting need to search for alternative options to stay in the UK
  • Can extend Tier 2 Visa by one more year, and have to leave after 6years (total in the UK)

However, there is a catch as it will not be applied for scientists, Ph.D. level scholars, as several top notch universities have already expressed their concerns about ongoing research projects that are registered.  The argument thus indicates how the international academics and research fraternity is thinking which affects the quality of HE (higher education) in the UK in future4. The challenge to weed out and find the brilliant ones from all the highly skilled migrants starts from Visa and University application process which later on after award of the degree will lead to contribute to UK GDP. This also raises a valid point towards the engagement of labour contributing to that area where the skill sets are hard to find.

Economists argue that in short to a medium time span, there will be fall out of this drastic rule which will see some of the domains and industry sectors are scouting for talents which are not available in within British UK population and not even from International freshmen passing out from UK universities. Export earnings to UK HE sector in 2012-135

Universities Off campus expenditure (non-UK students) Off-campus expenditure (non-UK) visitors  

HE education sector in the UK

Export Earnings £5.6 billion £4.91 billion £0.14 billion £10.71 billion


RCN (Royal College of Nursing) spokeswoman stated that just as the NHS requires more batches of skilled nurses and RCN is planning to go in full steam in terms of admission, this declaration of Theresa May comes in.  In other domain like teaching, NAHT is grappling with a shortage of staff, while pupils are increasing in schools each year, which makes this new rule an unwanted radical move.

On the contrary, the non-EEA students who are thinking to get employment after obtaining a professional degree from a UK university, therefore, need to be prepared mentally about the £35000 threshold in order to sustain in the UK permanently. While most control should have been in the quality ability to attract and retain talent in the UK depends on how the processes at a national level are equipped to filter out the best. No doubt that exceptionally bright international students do make their mark and are probably the crème of the class, the fear of migrant worker settling down in the UK has to be removed from the legislators.

The perception of this statement of Theresa May seems that the suddenly UK does not want international students to come and the very purpose to get an education and not just a degree is not happening. So more and more will be turning to other countries which were criticised by Sir V. Ramakrishnan, who will assume the office of Royal Society as President. Similarly, Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University opposed this as being a racist move, stating that Polish by birth had been able to receive excellent UK education and reach to the top of the academic career.

So if British Government is thinking to control immigration in terms of limiting the HE (higher education), international students it is hurting the personal values for those HE international applicants. So the research-intensive universities will see a drop in industry-sponsored research volume and quality in future that will hurt the UK economy itself. The philosophy of university motto that education for all, cutting across culture and nationality, economic class differences, therefore, will cease to exist. Students will think twice now before applying for UK universities.

Do you support this thought?

Before leaving please share your opinions on the following and join the movement:

Q 1. Do you agree with the new rule for tier2 students visa need to show income of at least £35000 is justified?


□ NO

Q 2: Do you support VC’s viewpoint Cambridge University, that education for all, cutting across culture and nationality, economic class differences should also happen in the UK?


□ NO

Q 3. Do you agree that fewer overseas students applying to UK universities in future will lead to skill set gaps in UK employment?

 □ YES

□ NO

Q 4. Do you agree that the problem stated by David Cameron, thereby may be able to be sorted out in a different manner? Please share your views.


□ NO



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