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Government data highlight international students’ economic contribution and a past education secretary ponders the future

It is hard to listen to any current discussions involving universities without detecting a note of panic around falling numbers of international students. A release of data from the Department for Education yesterday on the value of these students for the UK economy was therefore timely—if, for many higher education institutions, bittersweet.

In an analysis published last month, Universities UK said that international enrolments to UK universities in January 2024 were down by 44 per cent on the previous year. It blamed uncertainty among applicants over post-study work opportunities and the government’s decision to prevent international students, except those on postgraduate research courses, from bringing dependants with them.

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