Where is the love? Majority of international students in the UK do not feel welcome

International students contribute more than £7.9 billion a year to the economy

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The Independent Online

The majority of international students studying in the UK feel unwelcome in the country with a significant number saying they would not recommend to their friends that they come here to attend university, says a survey published on Monday.

A study of the attitudes of 3,100 international students by the National Union of Students revealed that more than 50 per cent believed the UK Government was either “not welcoming” or “not welcoming at all towards overseas students”.

Figures show PhD students are most likely to feel unwelcome (65.8 per cent) with those from Japan (64.5 per cent), Nigeria (62.8 per cent) and India (62 per cent) the next most likely to say they have received hostile treatment. Students from India, Pakistan and Nigeria are most likely to advise their friends not to study here.

Asked what most perturbed them, 40 per cent cited moves to get landlords to check on their legal status - while 74 per cent said introducing an NHS levy would make it either impossible or more difficult to study in the UK.

Student leaders argue the figures are “extremely worrying” as international students are estimated to contribute over £7.9 billion a year to the UK economy.

Figures show a drop in recruits last year - from 239,000 to 197,000 - although the latest UCAS statistics indicate they are rising again this year.

“Many international students feel unwelcome in the UK as a result of the Government’s hostile and overzealous policies,” said Daniel Stevens, the NUS’ international students’ officer. “The immigration bill’s proposals are set to create new barriers to international students at the same time that our global competitors are welcoming them with open arms.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “International students make a huge contribution - boosting our economy and enhancing our cultural life.

“That is why there is no cap on the number of legitimate students who can study here.”