Concern has arisen amongst vice chancellors as visa costs for international students are set to increase in the year ahead. Within an increasingly competitive student recruitment market, British universities fear heightened visa fees will cause international students to look to other countries, such as the US or Australia, for higher education.
The Vice Chancellors’ umbrella group Universities UK have outlined their disappointment with the Home Office’s decision, made without consultation with the higher education sector. Diana Warwick, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said, “The increase in fees will come at the same time as a number of other changes in the UK’s immigration system and the UK Government is in serious danger of sending out a message that it does not welcome international students.”
Initial visas for students applying overseas will increase from £99 to £145. Visa fees for extensions via postal applications in the UK will increase from £295 to £357 and in-person applications from £500 to £565 – with additional costs for dependents.
Over 50,000 undergraduate international students began their studies in the UK last year, with a similar number beginning postgraduate courses. Warwick states, “International students contribute far more to the UK academically, culturally and financially than they use in terms of public resources. We are very privileged as a country to welcome international students and have the opportunity to equip them with skills and qualifications for life.” The Vice Chancellors’ representative group highlighted the increasing competition for highly talented undergraduates and suggested this rise on visa fees may hinder the capabilities of universities to attract such students.