No final decision made by UK govt to ban foreign students from bringing family
Sunday 26 February 2023 12:59 PM UTC
LONDON Feb 26: The United Kingdom is planning to restrict international students from bringing immediate family members like spouses and children unless they study “high-value” degrees. But the government is yet to take a final decision on this contentious matter.
As per a news report published in The Times, only international students studying science, mathematics, and engineering will be able to bring their dependents to the UK. Foreign students would also be banned from bringing families unless they are studying at a higher level, such as a master’s degree or PhD, the report added.
The Times news has generated rumours among the foreign student community and within the social media that the UK government has made the final decision and discussions are rife on when the government will implement the changes i.e. will the rule be implemented from the May intake or from the next September intake, will it affect those who have dependants here in the UK etc.
However, it is to be noted that the Times report said that the government is yet to take a final decision on this contentious matter.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has drawn up proposals to reduce the number, which includes shortening the duration foreign students can stay in Britain post their course.
However, according to the Department of Education, the restrictions will bankrupt UK universities, which depend on foreign students for money.
It was only a few months back the UK government set up a new commission made up of education sector experts to help develop a new international education strategy that fully takes into account the many merits of overseas students in the country, of which Indians make up the largest nationality.
The International Higher Education Commission (IHEC), chaired by former UK universities minister and member of Parliament Chris Skidmore, has been created in the wake of recent reports of UK government plans to curtail the post-study work visa route and other measures to crackdown on student migration statistics.
Therefore, a final decision on this matter will be taken by the UK gvernment only once the International Higher Education Commission (IHEC) submits their findings and report.
The focus of the new commission, will be to highlight the value of overseas students to the UK economy and society and also to make recommendations for a new ‘International Education Strategy 2.0’ that is made up of visa offers competitive with other worldwide higher education destinations.
Britain has registered a near-eightfold rise in the number of family members joining foreign students. As per the immigration figures, nearly 5 lakh students were given visas last year. They were accompanied by 135,788 dependants — spouses and children — up from 16,047 in 2019. Of these, India became the largest source of students with 161,000 students, including 33,240 dependents, coming to the UK last year.
Asylum backlog hit a record high, with more than 160,000 migrants waiting for decisions on their applications, the report said.
According to estimates, international students add 35 billion pounds a year to the economy.
According to UK-based New Way Consultancy, foreign students and their dependents contributed to the UK economy not just through fees of 10,000 pounds to 26,000 pounds but also via an NHS surcharge of 400 pounds a year for the student and 600 pounds for a dependent.
It warned that curbs on graduate work visas will force Indian students to shift to countries like Australia and Canada, ultimately leading to the end of the student market in the UK.
“International students are vital to the social and economic success of the UK and ensuring we remain an outwardly focused and globally engaged nation relevant to the world of today,” said Skidmore, chair of the new panel who was behind the first International Education Strategy to set out targets to increase international student numbers for the UK.
“With a new strategy needs to come greater recognition that we must have a more granular and sustainable approach to international education – one that does not just treat students as numbers on a spreadsheet but delivers the best possible outcomes for every individual… with other countries outpacing the UK with more attractive post-study work visas, we need to wake up to the fact that international students are part of the solution, and not the problem, for future UK success,” he said.
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