Immigration

a satelite image of groups of people walking across an geometric floor

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

International students and staff: invaluable to universities and communities

Higher education is increasingly globalised. A growing numbers of students wanted to study a degree outside of their home country in the academic year 2017/18. The 458,490 international students studying at UK universities bring significant economic, social and cultural benefits to the UK. There are 87,615 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 gives the UK government an 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
  • help deliver the International Education Strategy to increase international student numbers and to improve the value of the UK's education exports
  • reform the student visa system so that it is accessible and straightforward, and positively contributed to overall international student experience
  • improve the immigration compliance regime for UK universities: making sure it continues to target abuse but welcomes genuine international students and staff
  • support EU students and staff navigate Brexit immigration policy (see here for our Brexit advice)
  • support universities to continue to internationalise their research and collaboration
  • work with Universities UK International to promote the UK's universities around the world

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

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 cover

Universities UK response to The student immigration system - a consultation

Report
11 February 2011
Universities UK strongly opposes the majority of the proposals outlined in the consultation.

Blog

Brexit day is here; but where next for the UK's immigration system?

31 January 2020
On the day that the UK leaves the European Union, UUK's Karmjit Kaur sets out what immigration reforms are needed to ensure the system is fit for purpose.

City with blue sky

General election 2019: skills, jobs and opportunity

11 November 2019
UUK's Karmjit Kaur on the policies that all parties should commit to, to ensure UK universities remain a global success story.

News

Government must act now or risk losing European students for years to come

5 October 2020
​Prospective university students from Europe must be given assurances that they will be given every opportunity to study in the UK, following one of the biggest changes to international student recruitment in a generation.

Universities UK's response to announcement on new points-based immigration system

19 February 2020
UUK's response to Government announcement on new points-based immigration system.

The team