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Immigration

We want to see an immigration system that helps universities to attract international students and highly skilled staff from around the world to study and work in the UK.

Subscribe to our immigration news bulletin for regular updates. 

Economic impact of international students

International students and staff: invaluable to universities and communities

Higher education is increasingly globalised, with growing numbers of students wanting to study a degree outside of their home country in the academic year 2017/18. The 458,490 international students studying at UK universities bring significant economic, social and cultural benefits to the UK, along with the 87,615 international staff employed by universities who teach UK university students and help maintain our world-leading research base.

The positive impacts of international students include:

  • an invaluable multi-cultural university experience for home students
  • £25.8 billion in gross output for the UK economy
  • £3.3 billion in tax revenues
  • 206,000 jobs supported

The decision to leave the EU offers the UK government the opportunity to re-think the immigration system and devise immigration policies that maximise the benefit all international university staff and students can bring to the UK.

Our work on immigration

The immigration team supports and strengthens the global influence of UK universities by ensuring that our immigration system allows the world's best students and academic staff to study and work in the UK.

We aim to:

  • secure an immigration system that enables universities to recruit and retain talented staff and students from all over the world
  • help deliver the cross-governmental International Education Strategy to increase international student numbers and to improve the value of the UK's education exports
  • reform the student visa system so that it is accessible and straightforward, and positively contributed to overall international student experience
  • improve the immigration compliance regime for UK universities: making sure it continues to target abuse but welcomes genuine international students and staff
  • support EU students and staff navigate Brexit immigration policy (see here for our Brexit advice)
  • support universities to continue to internationalise their research and collaboration
  • work with Universities UK International to promote the UK's universities around the world

Our work is informed by the UUK International Policy Network, chaired by Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter.

front cover of the student visa: principles to reform report

The student visa system: principles to reform

Report
18 July 2019
Universities UK has worked with five other Higher Education representative groups to have identified five principles that should underpin the design of the new student visa route and actions that must be taken to achieve this reform.

Immigration briefing

Estimates of lost higher education export revenue: effect of immigration rule changes

Briefing
29 October 2018
This briefing calculates the lost export revenue that has resulted from the stagnation of the number of international students choosing to study in the UK in recent years following changes to student migration policy in 2012.

Parliamentary briefing: An improved post-study work system

Briefing
4 September 2018
A briefing outlining UUK’s proposal for an improved post-study work offer for international students who have completed their study at a UK university, allowing these students to contribute their skills and expertise to their local communities.

Universities UK post-study work visa proposal

Post-study work proposal for international graduates

Report
4 September 2018
Universities UK's proposal for an improved post-study work system for international graduates.

Universities UK submission to the Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry into 'An immigration system that works for science and innovation'

Report
18 June 2018
Universities UK’s submission to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry on ‘an immigration system that works for science and innovation.’

HERB – Lords second reading

Parliamentary briefing: Lords Amendment 156 to the Higher Education and Research Bill

Briefing
7 April 2017
Our briefing for MPs ahead of the Higher Education and Research Bill returning to the House of Commons for the consideration of Lords amendments, focusing on Amendment 156 regarding international students and staff.

HERB – Lords second reading

The economic impact of international students

Briefing
6 March 2017
This briefing outlines new figures for 2014–15 on the economic impact of international students studying in the UK, including the jobs generated at a regional level and the income they provide local businesses.

Parliamentary briefing: International students and immigration

Briefing
11 November 2016
This briefing provides information about international students and immigration policy, including the latest trends in international student recruitment.

Briefing front cover

Parliamentary briefing: Immigration policy and visa ‘refusal threshold’

Briefing
7 December 2015
This short briefing sets out some background information relevant to the Oral Parliamentary Question of 9 December 2015 asked by Lord Clement-Jones.

Briefing front cover

Parliamentary briefing: Immigration Bill 2015 – Second Reading

Briefing
12 October 2015
This briefing requests that parliamentarians ask whether there are plans to exempt those recruiting from overseas to posts which are significantly concerned with education and skills training from the immigration skills charge.

Blog

City with blue sky

General election 2019: skills, jobs and opportunity

11 November 2019
UUK's Karmjit Kaur on the policies that all parties should commit to, to ensure UK universities remain a global success story.

News

New poll shows overwhelming support for an immigration system based on skills

10 December 2019
​A new poll has revealed that 80% of British adults agree that the UK's immigration system should allow scientists, academics and their support staff to work in this country at any stage of their career.

UUK response to announcement of a new post-study work visa

11 September 2019
Responding to the announcement of a new post-study work visa allowing international students to work in the UK for two years after graduation.

The team

Stephanie Harris

Policy Manager
Universities UK