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Proposed visa restrictions would deter potential LSE students

The London School of Economics and Political Science and LSE Students’ Union fear that proposed new visa regulations could deter significant numbers of international students from studying at the School.

LSE has surveyed all its overseas students (from outside the UK and the EU) to gather views on the recent UK Border Agency's consultation on changes to the student immigration system. As well as giving the School statistical information, the survey allowed students to record their feelings and comments on the proposals. One Indian student warned, "The cancellation of PSW [Post Study Work] will drastically reduce the number of overseas students who come to the UK for studies." A Chinese student reported feeling a responsibility to "inform my peers in my home country to consider their choices to study in the UK..."

The Agency wants to limit further the ability of students to work for a short period after studying and reduce the ability of students to bring in dependents while they are studying. It also plans various other restrictions designed to reduce the number of people coming into the UK using a student visa, including by increasing the standard of English required to come into the country. It is the first two proposals that particularly alarm overseas students at LSE, although the School is concerned to ensure that students undertaking an English course prior to taking up their place at LSE are not deterred.

Nearly 40 per cent of LSE's 4,723 international students responded to the survey. For 56 per cent of them, the temporary entitlement to post-study work was a factor in their decision to study in the UK.

Simeon Underwood, academic registrar at LSE, said,

"LSE attracts the best students from across the world and faces fierce competition particularly from the Ivy League universities in the United States. Our survey shows deep dissatisfaction amongst our overseas student body at the new proposals -- many have made it clear that they would not have applied under the new rules, and some have even said that they will discourage others from doing so."

Commenting on the effect this would have on the LSE student experience, Michael Lok, International Students' Officer at LSE Students’ Union, said,

"The proposed visa changes are likely to have a broad effect on the composition and ethos of the LSE student body, and will ultimately effect the overall university experience for both home and overseas students. The LSESU is working closely with the School on this issue, as well as with other students' unions to ensure that the concerns of all students, both home and international, are taken into account by the government."

The strength of feeling about the new proposals is also evident from the comments by students who responded to the LSE survey. For example:

"[PSW] is one important reason that I chose to study in UK rather than the States, Canada, or Australia." -- Chinese student

I see no point in cancelling PSW. Since most of the foreign students only plan to gain some working experience in UK and have long-term plans back in their home countries… Further as far as I know, foreign students bring enormous consumption to UK". – Chinese student

"If my spouse could not have worked in the UK, I would not have chosen to undertake my (5 year) programme of study in the UK, because she would not only have lost the ability to earn a salary to support our family but also would have to deal in future with the implications of her lost work experience” -Canadian student

“If I couldn’t come with my spouse, I would choose other countries where the cost of living is much less, such as the USA or Canada.” – South Korean student

Notes:

- This release is issued jointly by the London School of Economics and Political Science and the LSE Students' Union.

- The Universities UK report, The impact of universities on the UK economy estimates that overseas students contribute over £5bn per year to the UK economy both through fees and substantial off-campus expenditure.

http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/Publications/Documents/EconomicImpact4Summary.pdf|  

- For copies of the survey responses please contact the LSE press office on pressoffice@lse.ac.uk or 020 7955 7060.

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