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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.

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. The 442,375 international students studying at UK universities bring significant economic, social and cultural benefits to the UK, along with the 83,345 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
  • encourage an ambitious, cross-governmental strategy that works to increase international student numbers and to improve the value of the UK's education exports
  • improve post study work opportunities to let international students continue to contribute to their local communities on completion of their studies
  • improve the immigration compliance regime for UK universities: making sure it targets abuse but welcomes genuine international students and staff
  • support universities to continue to internationalise their research and collaboration
  • work with Universities UK International to promote the UK's universities around the world
  • campaign to remove students from the net migration target

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

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.

Final Universities UK Response Migration Advisory Committee: Review of Tier 2

Consultations and responses
30 September 2015
Students and staff from outside Europe make a vital and business-critical contribution to UK universities.

Migration Advisory Committee: Call for Evidence on Minimum Salary Thresholds for Tier 2

Consultations and responses
3 July 2015
Further to the initial salary review, we gathered evidence to support its submission to the MAC’s wider review of Tier 2.

Report cover

International students in UK higher education: the UK and its competition

Report
25 September 2014
The UK higher education sector's reputation remains strong internationally, but recent immigration reforms have generated both opportunities and threats.

Report cover

International students and the UK immigration debate

Report
25 August 2014
There is strong public support for international student migration, and it is clear that people understand the economic and educational benefits brought to Britain by international students.

Events

Blog

Further developments on student migration data

24 August 2017
As the Home Office and Office for National Statistics release new migration data, UUK's Eleanor Jubb analyses the implications for the higher education sector.

Government’s use of student migration data ‘potentially misleading’

27 July 2017
UUK's Eleanor Jubb considers the report by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) which says that the UK government's use of student migration data is 'potentially misleading'

News

Twenty three universities join student visa pilot

18 December 2017
Universities UK commented today on the news that the Home Office is to extend the scheme which streamlines the process for international Masters students wanting to study in the UK.

Europe’s university leaders call for urgent Brexit clarification

25 October 2017
​Leaders of European higher education bodies have signed a statement calling on governments across Europe to speed up Brexit negotiations so talks can begin over the future of European research, collaboration, and student mobility.

The team

Eleanor Jubb

Eleanor Jubb

Policy Manager
Universities UK