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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.

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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.

Competing Globally: the impact of government immigration policy on UK universities

Speeches/Talks
29 February 2012
Review was carried out by SUMS on behalf of the Higher Education Better Regulation Group (HEBRG).

Report cover

Universities UK response to The student immigration system - a consultation

Report
11 February 2011
Universities UK strongly opposes the majority of the proposals outlined in the consultation.

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

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.

International students paying through the nose for woefully inadequate document-checking service

29 July 2019
Concern is rising at UK universities as Sopra Steria – the company contracted to check documents and enrol biometric information as part of visa applications – is unable to meet demand, with students in some parts waiting 30 days to get an appointment

The team

Stephanie Harris

Policy Manager
Universities UK