A ban on foreign students who are coming to the UK with their dependents could be in the offing, London has said.
Sources in 10, Downing Street who are familiar with the development said the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is considering such action to tame the influx of migrants via education route to the UK.
The ban will particularly affect foreign students pursuing “low quality” degrees who come to the UK with dependents.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said a ban is seriously being considered to curb the high influx of foreign students who relocate to the UK with dependents for the period of their study.
“We’re considering all options to make sure the immigration system is delivering, and that does include looking at the issue of student dependants and low-quality degrees,” asserted Mr Sunak’s spokesperson.
The restriction was being mulled after net migration to the UK reached a historical high record of more than half a million immigrants precisely 504,000 as of June 2022 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The spokesperson, however, declined to clarify the “low quality” degrees.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt disagreed, asserting immigration was necessary for economic growth. According to him, the nation had to draw up “a long-term plan if we’re going to bring down migration in a way that doesn’t harm the economy”.
Suella Braverman, the former home secretary who quit in October after sending an official message through her personal mail, had previously voiced concerns about limiting foreign students “bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa” and “propping up, frankly, substandard courses in inadequate institutions”.
Another expert on immigration policy issued a warning that some institutions that depended significantly on the high tuition of overseas students to stay afloat would fail.
Meanwhile, Professor Brian Bell, who chairs the government Migration Advisory Committee disclosed the UK could suffer dire consequences should it impose a ban on foreign students.
“Most universities for most courses lose money on teaching British students and offset that loss by charging more for international students,” Mr Bell told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“If you close down the international route I’m not sure how the university continues to survive.”
Bell asserted ivy league schools such as Cambridge and Oxford could survive the ban but the fate of other universities lies bleak.
“What about Newcastle, what about the north-east, the north-west, Scotland?” asked the professor.
In addition, he issued a warning that British students may be required to pay higher tuition in order to make up for the fees lost from international students.
A total of £9.95 billion tuition fees was paid to UK universities by international students between 2020 and 2021 academic year, a report by The Higher Education Statistics Agency stated.