The great international student freeze of 2014

International students are a vital source of life-blood to a university providing revenue and research opportunities as well as global knowledge and brand recognition. We’re all familiar with the inherent importance of international recruitment so imagine how detrimental the fall-out would be if this resource was suddenly taken away?

 This is what universities and private colleges in the UK were faced with earlier this week when the news broke that they have been banned from sponsoring the enrolment of any new international students. This comes after an investigation was launched into the falsification of English language tests for student visa applications. The investigation also probed wider concerns including the recorded earnings of international students despite there either being limitations on working hours or prohibitions on working entirely (as is the case for foreign students enrolled in privately held UK colleges.)

This ban on enrolling international students comes at a time when the number of domestic students enrolling in UK colleges and universities is down due to rising student fees and the economic downturn. 

On a global scale, colleges and universities have sought to supplement the income traditionally supplied by domestic tuition fees and government grants with lucrative international students. In addition to the financial rewards, a student body that is rich in diversity also bolsters a university’s reputation and prestige.  Higher Education institutions need global players to compete on a global stage.

According to a 2012 UUK report non-EU student’s account for 20% of a university’s overall income.  This means that international student spending contributes nearly £5.7 billion to the UK economy on an annual basis.

The ban on international enrolment also begs the following questions:

If upheld, will there be an increase in domestic student fees?

What countries will benefit from this new gap in the international student market?

And finally, how can the remaining universities and colleges in the UK who are able to accept international students benefit from this swift execution of their competition?