In an attempt to amend the damage that was caused to the UK international recruitment, the government will consider to relax requirements for international students at universities that are research intensive.
Reports suggested that a high profile meeting was chaired by Danny Alexander with leaders from the sector in an attempt to find ways on how make UK universities more marketable to international students. This may indicate that the department may confront the Home Office about its visa policy.
It is believed that the sector is losing out on a potential 5000 overseas students annually which is blamed on the current visa policy of the Home Office. Relaxing the rules for the Russell Group is supported by some government members while some agree to have it across the board to more research universities. The aim of this meeting was so government and sector personnel could meet on the same platform to discuss solution to curtail the difficulties facing the sector and make the UK more marketable to international students.
Ministers from several different government sectors have fought the Home Office with the aim of preserving higher education from the effect immigration policy. The minister with responsible for universities, David Willetts has supported the notion of exemption of international students from the annual migration ceiling set by the Home Office. Vince Cable, whose ministry is responsible business has supported Willetts saying the inclusion of students in the migration ceiling, is irrational and potty.
Politics may be at play as another reason for the meetings could be to get ideas for the Democrats ahead of the trip to the polls.
Nick Hillman has welcomed the meeting and believes the Treasury should have stood up to the Home Office long ago. He further stated that when the students come here to study the UK benefits.
A suggestion was made by Mr. Alexander stating that the UK needs to expand overseas and cited University of Nottingham officials on the financial success of the university in Asia. He was also alarmed at the sector losing out on income which was paid to international recruiting agencies. Also discussed was the possibility of having the British Council playing more dominant role in the recruitment of international students in a market seemed to be emerging. Some sector personnel want to see a relaxation of the rule to be extended to all the subject disciplines.
The route for the post-study was shut down in April 2012 and international graduates must be employed and earning £20,300 or more in order to remain in the UK. Holders of PhDs are exempted from the salary threshold. Vince Cable is in support of having this exemption spreading to holders of both masters and first-class bachelor’s degrees.
The coalition may receive increase pressure from the Labour with an aim to provide alternate policy that would give fuel to overseas student education market.
Liam Byrne, speaking to Times Higher Education strongly believes that the UK international student market is losing a share in the market. He describes the policy of the Home Office to including students in the migration ceiling as being simply ridiculous.