Written evidence submitted by The University
of Sheffield (SV42)|
1. The University of Sheffield population comprises
over 24,000 students and just under 5,000 are international students
from outside the European Economic Area. The University recruits
students from over 137 countries globally. Consequently, the proposed
restrictions on Tier 4 migration are of paramount importance to
2. We support measures to prevent abuse of the
student immigration system. We appreciate that the government
does not intend to negatively impact upon universities and that
the focus of the proposed immigration changes is on sub-degree
level programmes. However, we do not believe that these measures
can work in isolation and are concerned about their subsequent
impact on university recruitment and the student experience.
3. International students pay full tuition fees
and their fee income accounts for 12% of the University's total
income. In addition, international students, and any accompanying
dependants, contribute to their local economy and the internationalisation
of their institution.
4. The University of Sheffield's Union of Students
has consulted the student population on the proposed immigration
changes and to date, has received over 130 direct responses. The
University and Union of Students are working together to address
the proposed Tier 4 policy changes.
Restricting provision of certain types of courses
The impact of such policy changes on the higher
The educational routes through which students
come to the UK to study at degree level
5. The majority of students at the University
of Sheffield study at degree level or above; approximately 12%
study at undergraduate level, 44% at Masters level and 37% on
6. However, the University of Sheffield believes
that any restrictions on sub-degree programmes will directly affect
international recruitment. The University has analysed
the number of students entering the University and determined
that at least 1 in 5 of commencing overseas students in 2010 were
studying in the UK on either foundation programmes or English
language programmes directly before commencing at the University.
We also note that this proportion has been growing in recent years.
Universities UK meanwhile estimates that across the UK as many
as 46% of the sector's overseas commencements came via pathway
or language programmes.
7. As such, severely restricting the number of
UK-based organisations that can offer pathways into UK higher
education is, in our view, likely to lead to a decline in the
numbers of students on such pathways and thus to a decline in
the number of overseas students at the University.
8. International students on language courses
are permitted to enter the UK on a student visitor visa for up
to 11 months. However, such students wishing to progress to degree
level cannot remain in the UK to convert to a Tier 4 student visa;
these students must return to their home country and apply for
fresh entry clearance. There is a real risk that these students
will either choose to study elsewhere in the world or be unable
to return to the UK due to visa processing delays. Reliance on
the student visitor route is undesirable for pre-degree language
The impact that reductions in student visas might
have on the UK's standing in the world
Whether cuts in student visas would have any effect
on the decision of highly qualified graduates to conduct research
or take up teaching posts in the UK
9. The proposed policy changes are likely to
have a negative impact on UK higher education in general. The
UK may be regarded as an unattractive study destination that neither
welcomes nor values the contribution made by international students.
This sentiment is expressed in the student quotes that are included
in the University of Sheffield's Union of Student's submission
to the Home Affairs Select Committee.
10. The UK stands to lose both high calibre students
and world class researchers and their associated projects. These
are the highly skilled individuals who the higher education sector
seeks to attract and who often contribute to ground breaking research
in the UK, raising the UK's profile globally.
Whether the post-study route should be continued
11. The University is extremely concerned about
the potential closure of the post-study work route and its impact
on international student recruitment generally, and from certain
markets in particular. If the post-study work route was abolished,
the UK's 'offer' to students would be far less attractive.
12. UK work experience develops employability,
gives students a competitive edge when applying for work in their
home country and adds to the home student experience.
13. If the post-study work scheme was to change,
we believe it imperative that existing conditions apply to those
students who are currently in the UK and those who will commence
a UK degree programme in the 2011-12 academic session, to ensure
that the UK's pledge of a post study work scheme is honoured.