International students are spurning Britain in favour of countries that are more welcoming to them, according to a major new report.
Nearly a third of prospective students decided to study in another country as the government of David Cameron continues to make it difficult for foreign students – particularly from outside the European Union – to study in the UK, according to the Hobsons International Student Survey.
More than 45,000 international students were questioned as part of the survey and whilst many still have a high regard for the quality of a British education, many have been compelled to look elsewhere for their university education as a result of the government’s “negative” attitude towards foreign students and the scrapping of the Post Study Work (PSW) visa.
The report claims that Britain is losing out international students to other countries.
Since the election of the last coalition government, the number of South Asian students has declined by nearly half with many students looking to other countries in Western Europe for better prospects.
Germany, for example, is enjoying double the growth of international student arrivals as the UK whilst a new bilateral agreement between France and India is expected to dramatically increase the number of students from the sub-continent travelling to that country.
According to the survey, many students have been attracted by generous post-study work opportunities available in both countries.
The survey states: “This trend looks set to continue and UK universities are set to lose out. There is a danger that the ‘English speaking’ advantage is weakening and that factors other than international rankings for institutions and English language teaching are increasingly important to international students.”
“Germany famously operates a very liberal ‘post-study work’ regime – automatically allowing graduates to live and work in Germany for 18 months after graduation. Other EU countries are actively mimicking the German approach, with France this year signing a bilateral deal with India – for example – to provide two-year post-study work visas for international students who graduate.
“The UK Government controversially abolished similar schemes in 2012 and the difficulty of acquiring work experience in a host country is likely to be a contributing factor to the relative decline in the UK’s popularity as a place to study”, the survey adds.
Despite contributing billions to the British economy annually, international students have been a primary target for Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theressa May as the government attempts to cut net migration figures to the tens of thousands from the current level which is in excess of 300,000.
Earlier this year, Theresa May proposed even tougher restrictions for international students, meaning they would be required to have even more financial savings when they arrive in the UK.
The home secretary also announced further education visas will also be cut from three years down to two, and students will be prevented from extending their studies in the UK unless they are registered at an institution with “a formal link to a university”.
A 2014 study by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) found growth fell between 2010-2013 – the first time in 29 years.
“The fact that the UK is losing out to European competitors with more a relaxed approach to post-work study and a better reputation for welcoming international students should be a real concern to policy-makers”, said Honor Paddock, a director at Hobsons.
“We need to fix this now so that future students aren’t put off and our Higher Education sector doesn’t suffer.”