Figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) suggest that the longstanding international reputation of British universities is dwindling. According to UCAS, the number of applicants from within the EU fell by 11% in 2011.
The consultancy firm London Economics suggests that the declining figures in 2011 will prove disastrous for the British economy over the next ten years. They predict that the next decade will see British universities lose £5.66bn in fees, as well as a further £2.3bn as a result of fewer international students employed in Britain.
However, despite the waning international interest, St Andrews appears to be bucking the trend. The international community of St Andrews makes up 35% of the total student body, a figure which appears to be on the rise. A University spokesman said: “We have seen another increase in overseas applications to St Andrews”. Figures released by UCAS indicate that applications to the University from the EU are up 35%, and from other international students, up 22%.
Fears arose last year that government plans to alter visa regulations would deter international students from coming to Britain. Last March, St Andrews voiced their concerns to Scottish Affairs Select Committee about the tightening of visa rules, stating they were “worried that the current proposals (now passed) from the UK Border Agency (UKBA), concerning changes to the Tier 4 Student Visa route will adversely affect our ability to recruit a diverse international student body.”
According UKBA, the changes to regulations are intended to: “reduce the number of people coming to the UK to study below degree level, introduce a tougher English language requirement and ensure that students show evidence of academic progression”.
A University spokesman told The Saint: “These changes have not affected the international make-up of the university. The University’s strong international reputation for high quality teaching means we have continued to see a high demand for places, notwithstanding the visa changes and research on application trends elsewhere. We will always, however, remain vigilant and be prepared to oppose measures or bureaucracy which could make it harder for us to attract the brightest students to St Andrews”, he said.