Immigration Bill Briefing

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill  

  • Destination for Education is a coalition of education providers that wants to maintain the UK’s position as one of the leading exporters of education.
  • Pathway Providers play a critical role in helping Britain’s universities recruit international students from around the world. We are valued partners of universities – who value the study skills we help international students develop to ensure they succeed when they begin their studies – and are viewed as “highly compliant” by UK Visas and Immigration UKVI).
  • The Home Office set out some commitments in the Immigration White Paper in December 2018, but the Bill contains few meaningful policy reforms. Destination for Education believes that the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination Bill is a once-in-generation opportunity to create an immigration system for international students that helps Britain recover its status as the world’s leading destination for students from around the world. We are calling on members of parliament in all parties to work together to reshape the Bill into powerful reforming legislation.
  • While the Immigration Bill is intended to be a framework, it is important that international student policy is not lost in post-Brexit debate. We believe that Britain’s universities, and the local economies they serve, deserve the certainty of a Bill that sets out clearly the reforms necessary to recover Britain’s lost ground in the battle to recruit the best students from around the world. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Students set out its policy recommendations for international student policy, which we urge the government to adopt. 

Destination for Education is urging parliamentarians to bring forward amendments to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination Bill to: 

  • Offer a clearly labelled and attractive post-study work visa which allows up to two years of work experience in the UK. This visa should not be restricted to licenced Tier 2 sponsors of by job type or salary.
  • Set out in legislation a clear and ambitious target to grow international student numbers which should be supported by a cross-departmental strategy focused on recruitment and the student experience. Government should then remove students from targets to reduce net-migration to successfully facilitate increasing numbers.
  • Compel the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration to conduct an independent review of credibility interviews within the student immigration system to ensure the system is fit for purpose, cost effective relative to current risk and does not limit the diversity of international students in the UK.
  • Establish an international graduate and alumni strategy which would support international students’ employment opportunities in their home country to boost UK soft power, research and trade and support greater engagement with alumni by universities, business and government. Activities to track the long-term employment destination of international graduates should be intensified.
  • Accurately track data on education as an export and as an economic value, including at a national, regional and local level. Government should include education in their trade strategy when approaching bi-lateral agreements.

Why International Student visa legislation needs to be reformed: 

  • The UK’s current immigration policy towards international students places a burden on the higher education sector. A study from ExEdUK and EY estimates the UK’s falling status as a Higher Education provider has come at a cumulative cost of £9bn to GDP[i] over the last 6 years.
  • Latest Higher Education Statistics Authority Data also shows that, in total, 72 British universities have lost over 43,000 international students over the past five years. These students would have supported around 24,000 jobs[ii] and brought £920m positive economic impact[iii] to these universities and their local economies: 50% of the jobs would have been in the local economies and 50% in the universities.
  • Research from Oxford Economics shows the economic benefit of international students to the UK was £25.8bn in 2014-15, contributing to 206,600 jobs in university towns and cities[iv]. Higher Education is also the second biggest contributor to the UK’s balance of payments with £26billion of gross output for the UK economy[v]. This is equivalent to a £13.8bn contribution to GDP[vi].
  • While the UK’s competitors have each taken steps to expand opportunities for international students, the UK’s lack of movement in this area has been at a cost to our international competitiveness. The UK’s position as a global leader at exporting Higher Education is under threat from international competitors. International student numbers in the UK have fallen 6% since their 2010 peak despite the global market growing 7% annually.
  • Other countries, meanwhile, which offer English-speaking courses, have experienced significant growth:
  • The UK needs to deliver a fair student visa regime to avoid losing out to its competitors, so that the economy can continue to benefit from international students.[x] 
  • In the US, international student enrolment grew by 7% in 2015/16, its tenth consecutive year of growth. There are now more than one million international students enrolled in the US, with an estimated economic impact of $36 billion USD.[vii] 
  • The number of international students in Canada increased by 8% in 2015. The economic impact of international students in Canada has recently been estimated at $8.5 billion USD.[viii]
  • Australia has experienced significant growth, growing international student numbers in Higher Education by 15% year on year to April 2017. [ix]

[i] Source: ExEdUK [ii] 50% of the jobs would be in the local economies and 50% in the universities, according to research conducted by Strathclyde/UCU. [iv] Source: UUK [v] Source: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee [vi] Source: UUK [vii] Source: ICEF [viii] Source: ICEF [ix] Source: Australian Government [x] Patterns and trends in UK Higher Education 2017 p20

News and Articles

We are working hard to support universities’ ability to attract international students. Updates can be found here.

29 Jan 2019

Immigration Bill Briefing

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill   Destination for Education is a ...


18 Jan 2019

Home Office must reassess its practices

Responding to the Financial Times report on the Home Office, Sue Edwards, Director of Compliance and...


06 Nov 2018

It's time to take the brakes off international education

It is time for the government to take the brakes off international education and work with the secto...



Destination for Education is backed by a broad range of supporters, including: The UK’s leading universities; Pathway providers who help prepare international students for study in the UK; Business representatives; Campaign groups.