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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. 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.

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

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

UUK and sector partners call for reform of the student visa system

18 July 2019
The government is being challenged to back-up its commitment to boosting international student numbers with reform to the new student visa route.

The team

Stephanie Harris

Policy Manager
Universities UK