Universities UK is pleased to submit this formal response to the Government consultation
The student immigration system. The response has been formulated following widespread and
in-depth engagement across the university sector in the UK and is based on the views of our
Universities UK strongly opposes the majority of the proposals outlined in the consultation.
This position arises from our view that the proposals would have a substantial negative
impact on individual universities, the wider economy and the global reputation of the UK as a
destination that welcomes international students and recognises the significant contribution
that they make.
In an increasingly international marketplace for students, the proposals risk putting the UK
at a significant disadvantage to its global competitors and will undermine future efforts to
attract the ‘brightest and best’ students to its world-renowned institutions.
The proposals will undermine the autonomy of UK universities and will extend the reach of
the UK Border Agency (UKBA) into academic matters which fall well outside of its remit of
Many of the data sources used to inform and justify the proposals are inadequate and require
greater scrutiny, not least the extensive use of the International Passenger Survey (IPS),
which was never intended to measure net migration but is now being used as the basis of a
policy to reduce it.
Whilst UK universities welcome any attempts to stamp out abuse within the student visa system,
these proposals extend far beyond this simple objective, and will result in universities
facing huge reductions in the recruitment of legitimate international students. This is likely to
have a significantly detrimental impact, not only on university finances and regional economies,
but also on the economic health of the nation.
UK universities remain committed to engaging with UKBA and the wider Home Office to work
through policy changes to the student visa system to ensure that harm to higher education
institutions is limited. This response contains a number of alternative proposals to those
outlined by the Government in its consultation document.