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Student visa restrictions could hit universities

By Mark Smulian | 17 October 2011

The clampdown on visas for overseas students could worsen universities’ already declining share of the international market, according to a report published today by Universities UK.

Professor Paul O’Prey, chair of Universities UK Longer Term Strategy Network, said: ‘The UK’s share of the international student market has reduced over [the past decade], with other countries becoming more competitive in attracting these students.’

He added: ‘This trend does not include the impact of recent changes to non-European Union student visas, which may result in a greater loss of market share in the future.’

Even though global market share fell, the absolute number of non-EU foreign students in the UK more than doubled over the past decade to 400,000.

China provided the highest numbers on all except postgraduate courses, where India took first place.

The report, Patterns and trends 2011 in UK Higher Education, showed that UK higher education institutions educate some 2.5 million students annually, a 28% increase on the position a decade ago.

In 2009/10 they had a combined turnover of £26.8bn. Tuition fees and education contracts accounted for 31% of this, against 23% in 2000/01.

Long-term borrowing varied significantly with some institutions borrowing nothing while four had borrowed the equivalent of more than 70% of their income.

O’Prey said the impact of the recession was evident in the 38.6% slump in endowment and investment income over the past year.

Despite the economic downturn, employment rates among graduates remained high, with 80% of institutions recording between 86%–94% of their students in employment or further study six months after graduation.

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