Foreign students bringing dependents ‘unreasonable practice’: UK Home Secretary

The new UK foreign student visa restrictions, announced to tighten the visa system and prevent its misuse, will take effect today
Pic Credit: EdexLive
Pic Credit: EdexLive

The "unreasonable practice" of international students bringing their families to the United Kingdom (UK) will end, according to British Home Secretary James Cleverly, as visa limits take effect today, January 1, 2024.

Following a near-eightfold increase in the number of family members accompanying overseas students, the UK government announced a ban on those not taking "high-value" degrees under government plans last year.

Furthermore, to avoid misuse of the visa system, international students will be barred from switching from the student visa route to the work visa route until their studies are completed IANS reports.

India is the second-largest overseas student cohort enrolling at UK universities in 2020–21, with 87,045 first-year enrollments, trailing only China's 99,965 enrolments.

The Ministry of External Affairs reports that 1,39,539 Indian students (not including dependents) studied in the UK in 2022.

Education experts are worried about the move, stating that if it discourages foreign students from coming to the UK, they will migrate to rival countries.

Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) think tank, told The Standard, “I don’t celebrate the new changes.”

“International students benefit the UK in all sorts of ways. For example, they are vital to maintaining our world-class university sector as their fees cross-subsidise the teaching of home students and also help to fund UK research,” Hillman added.

International students boost the UK economy by 35 billion pounds annually, as per estimates.

According to the UK-based New Way Consultancy, foreign students and their dependents not only supported the UK economy with fees ranging from 10,000 to 26,000 pounds, but they also did so by paying an NHS surcharge of 400 pounds for students and 600 pounds for dependents annually.

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