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International students feel unwelcome in UK as immigration bill set to "create new barriers" to study

Monday 10 February 2014

The majority of international students studying across the UK feel unwelcome and a significant amount would not recommend the UK as a place to study, new NUS research has found.

An NUS survey of over 3100 international students in both further and higher education found that over 50 percent of non-EU students polled stated that the UK Government is either not welcoming or not at all welcoming towards international students.

These numbers are even higher for PhD students (65.8 per cent) and students from Turkey (61.3 percent), Japan (64.5 per cent), Nigeria (62.8 per cent), India (62 per cent) and Pakistan (56.1 per cent).

19 percent of non-EU students would not recommend the UK as a place to study to a friend or relative.  This number is higher for PhD students (23.5 per cent) and students from India (34.5 per cent), Nigeria (36.8 per cent), and Pakistan (38.5 per cent).

These figures are extremely worrying, particularly because international students contribute a phenomenal amount to the economy. Data from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) suggests that international students contribute over £7.9 billion per year to the UK economy and education sector.

Last year international student numbers plummeted from 239,000 to 197,000 – this alone would cost the economy £725m. The number of students from India fell by 25 percent.

With the Immigration Bill being debated in the House of Lords today, the survey also found that 40 per cent of those polled said that the introduction of landlord checks would negatively impact their decision to study in the UK.

74 per cent of non EU international students surveyed said that the introduction of a £150 NHS levy would make it either not possible or more difficult to study in the UK.

The immigration bill would impact international students more than any other group as they already make up the majority of those subject to new visa controls. International students are already the most heavily regulated and monitored, despite the fact that they put the most into the UK economy for the duration of their stay.

Daniel Stevens, NUS international students’ officer, said:

“These figures confirm what we have been saying all along. Many international students feel unwelcome in the UK as a result of the government’s hostile and overzealous policies.

“The immigration bill’s proposals are set to create new barriers to international students at the same time that our global competitors are welcoming them with open arms.

“International students have made their view clear- they would not recommend the UK as a place to study if these proposals were introduced.

“Not only are the proposals unwelcoming, they are also unworkable, expensive and discriminatory. Given the huge contribution international students make to the UK, they also stand to be self-defeating, sending a message that the UK is closed for business.

“Further monitoring and regulation will cost more to the public purse than it will save, whilst also unfairly targeting a group in our society that contributes a phenomenal amount to our education sector, our economy and to our local communities.”


Notes to Editors

  • For press enquiries, please contact the press office by calling 07866695010 or email
  • NUS surveyed international students (both EU and non-EU) at all its membership organisations in both Further and Higher Education between 4-31 January 2014. In total, NUS received 3135 valid responses.
  • The survey report is available to download here.