The Home Office decision to prevent international applicants to one-year Master’s courses in the UK from bringing dependants with them represents a blow to equality and inclusion, and a loss in competitiveness against our counterparts in Europe, North America and Australasia who continue to welcome these students and their families with open arms.
Prohibiting graduate students from bringing their lives and families to the UK is an ‘own goal’ for the Government if it is striving for growth. Currently, the net economic impact of the 2021/22 cohort of international students in London on the UK economy is £9.59 billion, equating to an average net impact in London of £131 million per constituency; that’s equivalent to £1,040 per resident. Preventing international postgraduate students from bringing their families with them will likely lower this figure and undo the honourable ambitions set out by the Government in its own International Education Strategy. This policy will also sever the pipeline of talent that could go on to power both UK plc and UK R&D through their skills, entrepreneurship and further research.
As the International Education Strategy for London shows, London’s appeal to international students is as yet unrivalled and acts as a gateway for international talent across the UK. We fear today’s announcement could dent London’s international ‘pulling power’ to the detriment of the whole country and we hope this is not the start of a slippery slope which opens the door to further restrictions on international students in the longer term.