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Europeans seek gains from UK crackdown on students’ families

 Image: Number 10 [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr

Other countries should seize opportunity of UK’s unwelcoming student immigration policy, researchers say

European academics are seeking to help their countries gain from the UK’s restriction of visas for international students’ families, in expectation that some students will reject the country as a consequence of the new policy.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak (pictured) said in a social media post on 1 January that “from today, the majority of foreign university students cannot bring family members to the UK”, adding that in his view this was “delivering for the British people”.

Described by one researcher in the UK as an “own goal”, the policy, which is set to impact graduate students most heavily, has caused concern among many UK academics that the country is becoming a less attractive destination for international students.

International students pay higher fees than domestic ones in the UK, helping to cover costs for both home students and research.

In response to Sunak’s post, some European academics sought to seize on the opportunity of international students potentially being turned off the UK.

Pressing the advantage

Björn Schumacher, a researcher at the University of Cologne, urged international students to choose Germany in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Dear international students and talents from around the world, note that German universities welcome foreign students, are tuition-free and many subjects are taught in English. Germany has become an open and liberal society in contrast to what the UK government is implementing,” he said, quoting Sunak’s tweet.

Similarly, Farzad Saidi, a researcher at the University of Bonn, said in another response that the German government should “wake up to another opportunity to attract foreign talent”.

Meanwhile, Adriano Aguzzi, a professor at the University of Zurich, invited international students to benefit from what Switzerland has to offer.

“Dear students, come to Switzerland!” he said. “We have top science institutions, awe-inspiring natural beauty, and we embrace multicultural research environments as our greatest asset.”