Government proposals to cut the number of international students studying at UK universities have been denounced as “unwelcome” by Kingston University’s Pro Vice Chancellor.
Martyn Jones has criticised plans to raise the English language requirement for foreign students and put a cap on the total number who can come and study in the UK.
“Any measures which make it more difficult for international staff and students to come to Kingston University are unwelcome,” said Mr Jones.
“Our international students are a very important part of our University community.”
It remains unclear how large the drop in international students will be, but there are are currently a total of 2,824 overseas students paying international fees at Kington University, who also account for over 28 per cent of the total postgraduate student population.
“We can’t, at this stage, speculate on how any potential proposals may, or may not, affect Kingston University,” said a Kingston University spokesperson.
Tier 4 (student) visas are essential criteria for any students who wish to study in the UK and are from outside the EU.
Tier 4 visas are granted to applicants who achieve 40 points on the Tier 4 visa points-based system (PBS). Thirty points are awarded for having an education provider in the UK, and ten is earned by the applicant having proof of sufficient funds to cover course fees and cost of living, and language requirements.
International students must also demonstrate that their English is good enough to “understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation.”
With university funding cuts announced, including a £6m cut in Kingston University’s recurrent grant for the 2011-2012 academic year, universities will be looking to the cash that comes from recruiting more international students, according to a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute .
The report, written by the Vice Chancellor of the University Of East Anglia, Edward Acton, notes that the average international student pays £10,463 in fees.
“To implement the proposed measures as they stand would amount to a hostile act against British universities,” said the report. “(International students have) become a vital income stream for universities and, indeed, for the wider economy. In a tricky funding period, most universities plan to expand international numbers in the immediate future.”
To adapt to the potential restrictions on international student recruitment, Mr Jones announced that the University is formulating a new international strategy he hopes to be ready by the end of the year.
“It will encompass activities such as exchange programmes, the internationalization of the curriculum and the importance of international academic staff,” said Mr Jones.