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UK’s vicious circle – less international student, less prestigious place on the Rankings

It seems to be just the first step to go through the competitive admission process to enrol at one of the high quality university programmes in the UK. This year international students coming from India, China, Asia and the Middle East found an additional challenge to enter the country and start their studies on time. The reason was the newly-launched UK visa system which has been implemented during the spring this year, aiming to protect the labour market and to enhance security (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, November 2008). However worried voices can be heard from the UK universities concerning the risk of losing their attractiveness and reputation on the global higher education market due to the problems encountered with the new VISA scheme. As the recent publications show, i.e. several international university rankings and the Open Doors 2009 report, the global competition for international students has been increasing every year. The number of foreign student is one factor of the ranking evaluation and international students’ on and off campus spending is an essential contribution to the UK’s economy. This visa problem started growing during the summer and is still a hot topic for the winter season because these strategically important locations like India, China and the Middle East can significantly contribute to the UK’s economic figures. A recent study shows that the new visa system has led to confuse the rules being often misinterpreted and genuine students being refused the visas. These students and their families can study and spend their money in the United States or Australia as an alternative solution. This potential phenomenon can have an effect on the prestige and operation of UK universities which can start the vicious circle: decreasing number of international students, less prestigious places on the rankings, less attractive universities, and less contribution to the GDP. UK Visa Bureau