Great Britain: entry barriers could put Turing program at risk

Current visa rules for students coming to the UK from abroad may hinder the success of the Turing program for short stays. That’s the decision of a new report from the British University University UK (UUK) interest group. The report highlights the importance of foreign students to Great Britain and therefore emphasizes the extension of the visiting visa for exchange students from six to twelve months.

According to UUK, international students generally need a visa to study in the UK from 1 January. The British Immigration Service currently distinguishes between a visiting visa (for a stay of up to six months), which costs £95, and a student visa (for the length of study concerned), which costs around £350 plus an annual health fee. Only less than 500 British pounds will have to be paid. UUK estimates that every year around 13,000 EU students require one of these visas for their studies in Great Britain. Students can now decide to reduce their stay in the UK or not come at all, as this will result in greater financial constraints, especially for stays of more than six months. The report argues that fewer formal barriers are associated with longer stays by foreign students in the UK.

Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, commented on Times Higher Education, which first reported on the report, that foreign students are of great interest to the UK as they make UK universities more diverse. They also brought an annual income of around £470 million (€550 million) to the UK economy. Finally, they also ensured that British students could study abroad: the more foreign students admitted to the UK under these programmes, the more places there would be for British students at partner universities.

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The UUK report is based on data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) on foreign exchange students between 2015 and 2020. A total of 39,000 exchange students studied in the UK during this period. In addition, a qualitative survey was conducted in 32 British universities in the summer of 2021, which was also included in the report.

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