Curbs on postgrad work ‘putting students off coming to the UK’

The main reason international students are put off attending UK universities is the lack of post-study work opportunities, according to a new survey.

Students in lecture theatre
More than a quarter (26.8 per cent) of foreign students considering UK universities eventually opted to study in another country, with another 5.4 per cent finally choosing not to go abroad at all to study, according to the latest International Student Survey from education specialists Hobsons.More than a third who decided against studying in the UK cited restrictions on post-study work options as the main reason for rejecting the UK. Among other reasons quoted were career prospects after graduation, the chances of permanent settlement and the ability to work while still a student.Among the international students who decided to go somewhere other than Great Britain, the highest proportion (28 per cent) picked a university in the United States, followed by Canada and Germany (both 11 per cent).Germany, in fact, is experiencing a seven per cent, year-on-year growth in the total of international students heading there, compared to a current growth rate of just under three per cent in the UK.The report said, "This trend looks set to continue on the basis of this survey with tomorrow's international students, meaning that UK universities are set to lose out."There is a danger that the 'English speaking' advantage is weakening and that factors other than international rankings for institutions and English language teaching are increasingly important to international students.""Germany famously operates a very liberal 'post-study work' regime – automatically allowing graduates to live and work in Germany for 18 months after graduation.Other EU countries are actively mimicking the German approach, with France this year signing a bilateral deal with India, for example, to provide two-year, post-study work visas for international students who graduate."The UK government controversially abolished similar schemes in 2012 and the difficulty of acquiring work experience in a host country is likely to be a contributing factor to the relative decline in the UK's popularity as a place to study."Honor Paddock, a director at Hobsons, added, "The fact that the UK is losing out to European competitors with more a relaxed approach to post-work study and a better reputation for welcoming international students should be a real concern to policy-makers. We need to fix this now so that future students aren't put off and our higher education sector doesn't suffer."However, the UK government is targeting foreign student numbers as part of a wider effort to bring down record levels of migration to the country. Although the University and College Union warned last year that international students were now heading for countries "that make an effort to welcome them", ministers have been alarmed by figures showing that, in the 2013-14 school year, 121,000 non-EU students arrived in the UK while only 51,000 were recorded as having left.Earlier this year, Home Secretary Theresa May proposed even tougher restrictions for international students, which would require them to have proof of even greater financial backing before being allowed to study in Britain.For more Re:locate news and features about higher education, click here and for more about immigration issues, click here