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UK Universities In Danger As Fewer Foreign Students Enrol

FILE PHOTO: The Britain's national flag flies next to the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known as Big Ben, on national day of reflection to mark the two year anniversary of the United Kingdom going into national lockdown, in London, Britain, March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

A government-commissioned report has warned Britain not to further restrict the number of international students or risk several universities collapsing. Foreign registrations fell sharply for the upcoming academic year.

The number of foreign post-graduate students paying deposits to study at British universities in September decreased by 63 per cent from the previous year. This data was provided by the Migration Advisory Committee, an independent body that provides advice to the government. The decline was caused by the government placing restrictions on education visas.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government has worked to cut back on care workers and low-paid employees as well as the amount of students entering the country. Some post-graduate students have been prohibited from bringing family members.

The report warned against further curbs on the so-called graduate route. Currently, international students can work in Britain for up to two years after graduation. The report further cited the possibility “that some institutions would fail” in addition to job losses and course closures.

A spokesman for Sunak said the government will review the report and take appropriate action. However, the spokesman drew attention to the scheme’s shortcomings, highlighting that over 40 per cent of overseas students who took this route were either unemployed or earning less than 15,000 pounds per year after graduation.

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The Migration Advisory Committee concluded that there was no proof of pervasive mistreatment particularly pertaining to the graduate route. 70 per cent of graduate visas are issued to students from four countries: China, Pakistan, Nigeria, and India.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), a British business lobby group, claimed that British universities were among the nation’s greatest export successes. “It’s time to put its future beyond doubt and end this period of damaging speculation,” it said on the Migration Advisory Committee’s comment that the system was not being exploited.

The political debate in Britain has been dominated by high levels of legal migration for an extended period. This served as a primary catalyst for the 2016 Brexit referendum.

(With inputs from Reuters)