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Immigration

We want to see an immigration system that helps universities to attract international students and highly skilled staff from around the world to study and work in the UK.

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Economic impact of international students

International students and staff: invaluable to universities and communities

Higher education is increasingly globalised, with growing numbers of students wanting to study a degree outside of their home country. The 442,375 international students studying at UK universities bring significant economic, social and cultural benefits to the UK, along with the 83,345 international staff employed by universities who teach UK university students and help maintain our world-leading research base.

The positive impacts of international students include:

  • an invaluable multi-cultural university experience for home students
  • £25.8 billion in gross output for the UK economy
  • £3.3 billion in tax revenues
  • 206,000 jobs supported

The decision to leave the EU offers the UK government the opportunity to re-think the immigration system and devise immigration policies that maximise the benefit all international university staff and students can bring to the UK.

Our work on immigration

The immigration team supports and strengthens the global influence of UK universities by ensuring that our immigration system allows the world's best students and academic staff to study and work in the UK.

We aim to:

  • secure an immigration system that enables universities to recruit and retain talented staff and students from all over the world
  • encourage an ambitious, cross-governmental strategy that works to increase international student numbers and to improve the value of the UK's education exports
  • improve post study work opportunities to let international students continue to contribute to their local communities on completion of their studies
  • improve the immigration compliance regime for UK universities: making sure it targets abuse but welcomes genuine international students and staff
  • support universities to continue to internationalise their research and collaboration
  • work with Universities UK International to promote the UK's universities around the world
  • campaign to remove students from the net migration target

Our work is informed by the UUK International Policy Network, chaired by Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter.

Migration Advisory Committee: Call for Evidence on Minimum Salary Thresholds for Tier 2

Consultations and responses
3 July 2015
Further to the initial salary review, we gathered evidence to support its submission to the MAC’s wider review of Tier 2.

Report cover

International students in UK higher education: the UK and its competition

Report
25 September 2014
The UK higher education sector's reputation remains strong internationally, but recent immigration reforms have generated both opportunities and threats.

Report cover

International students and the UK immigration debate

Report
25 August 2014
There is strong public support for international student migration, and it is clear that people understand the economic and educational benefits brought to Britain by international students.

Report page

One size fits all? An analysis of the international student’s journey through the UK higher education system

Report
2 June 2014
Examines the different data sources on non-EU students coming to the UK and what the data tells us about students’ destinations once they graduate.

Briefing front cover

Parliamentary briefing: Immigration Bill - Lords’ Second Reading

Briefing
10 February 2014
Universities UK is concerned about provisions in the Immigration Bill.

Parliamentary briefing: Immigration Bill - Commons’ Report Stage and Third Reading

Briefing
31 January 2014
Universities UK’s briefing for MPs for the Report Stage and Third Reading of the Immigration Bill.

Report page

Cost and benefit analysis project on immigration regulation

Report
11 July 2013
Higher Education Better Regulation Group (HEBRG) published the final report of the cost and benefit analysis project on Tier 4 student immigration regulation on 11 July 2013.

Briefing front cover

Parliamentary briefing: Impact of current immigration policy on the attractiveness of United Kingdom universities to overseas students (Lord Giddens)

Briefing
30 October 2012
This briefing covers the topic of an Oral Question asked by Lord Giddens on the impact of immigration policy on the UK's ability to continue to attract overseas students to study at its universities.

Briefing front cover

Parliamentary briefing: Oral Question – Benefits to the UK of ceasing to classify foreign university students as economic migrants (Lord Hannay of Chiswick)

Briefing
3 July 2012
This briefing covers the topic of an Oral Question asked by Lord Hannay of Chiswick, covering the potential benefits of removing students from the government's target to bring net migration to under 100,000.

Competing Globally: the impact of government immigration policy on UK universities

Speeches/Talks
29 February 2012
Review was carried out by SUMS on behalf of the Higher Education Better Regulation Group (HEBRG).

 Report

This briefing calculates the lost export revenue that has resulted from the stagnation of the number of international students choosing to study in the UK in recent years following changes to student migration policy in 2012.

Blog

Further developments on student migration data

24 August 2017
As the Home Office and Office for National Statistics release new migration data, UUK's Eleanor Jubb analyses the implications for the higher education sector.

Government’s use of student migration data ‘potentially misleading’

27 July 2017
UUK's Eleanor Jubb considers the report by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) which says that the UK government's use of student migration data is 'potentially misleading'

News

UK misses out on more than £8bn due to student visa changes

22 October 2018
The UK economy may have lost out on billions in export earnings from international students due to immigration rule changes made in 2012, according to a new analysis from Universities UK.

University staff prioritised in EU settlement scheme

11 October 2018
Universities UK has welcomed the news that EU university staff working in the UK will be prioritised in the next phase of the EU settlement scheme pilot.

The team