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Following the news that new Brexit could have a wide-reaching impact on higher education business, TES has revealed that colleges across the UK are also feeling the impact of the Brexit vote. Brexit has been blamed for a 17% increase in no-shows at some of the UK’s business schools for the 2016/17 academic year. The Brexit vote and accompanying anti-immigrant rhetoric have impacted everything from the number of students showing up to their courses, to the number of students applying to stay in the UK following the completion of their course.
Statistics from the Home Office show that only 65 students applied to extended their student visas between April and June this year, compared to 1,146 for the same period in 2015. Colleges are also feeling the brunt of the Brexit vote, with the number of visa applications sponsored by colleges was down 4% on the previous year and less than half of the number from 2013.
Around 160 colleges in the UK recruit students from overseas, but these schools reported that anti-immigrant rhetoric had made it difficult to maintain their recruitment figures following the Brexit vote. Tim Proud, assistant principal at Southampton’s Itchen Sixth Form College revealed that recruiting overseas students had become a necessity in order to bring in extra income. In 2007, international students brought in £239,000, which accounted for 3.5% of the college’s total income. In 2016, this figure increased to £1.25 million, 13.3% of total income. Without this essential income stream, Proud predicts that curriculums would have to be cut or jobs would be lost.
Changes to the Tier 4 visa have made relying on overseas students a risky strategy for colleges and higher education institutions. Since Theresa May announced that students wouldn’t be excluded from the official immigration statistics, it has become difficult for colleges and universities to rely on income from international students. With the UK openly pledging to cut immigration, it is difficult for colleges and universities to encourage students to ignore the anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Since 2010, the Home Office has revoked sponsorship status to more than 920 institutions offering substandard courses in order to allow people to come to the UK on a student visa. A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “We have cracked down on bogus colleges offering substandard courses by making the sponsorship system more rigorous. All education institutions wanting to recruit international students must demonstrate a strong record of immigration compliance, as well as educational quality.”