The figures show a 25.8% drop in the number of Indian students, a 24.9% drop in Pakistani students and a 14.1% drop in the number of Nigerian students studying at Scottish universities for 2011/12. The fall has occurred only months after the UKBA announced the end to its post-study work route for international students.
SNP MP Pete Wishart received a request for help from Universities Scotland, and will be raising the issue with Home Secretary Theresa May next week.
Pete Wishart MP said: “International students are attracted to Scotland’s universities due to their world-class reputations and our culture and history. Their presence on Scottish university campuses not only enriches the student experience for our home students but the wider local community. They also add value to the Scottish economy – the University of Strathclyde in 2009 estimated that international students contribute £188 million to universities in Scotland directly, with a further £321 million to the wider Scottish economy.
“International students were already going to tremendous lengths to comply with UKBA’s immigration rules, and the termination of the UKBA post-study work route – which was part of the visa package and enabled international students to help pay off their fees- has left Scotland unable to compete with many of our competitor nations who still offer the feature.
“The negative consequences of this UK policy change in Scotland is an example of why Scotland would do better to have full powers coming from the Scottish Parliament, rather than Westminster.”
Universities Scotland’s Director Alistair Sim said: “It is deeply worrying to see such steep declines in students from India, Nigeria and Pakistan studying in Scotland. These are important markets for Scottish higher education and countries with which we have long -standing academic relationship. It’s very important that the message gets out to these countries that international students are welcome in Scotland. This is not the perception given out by hard-line rhetoric from parts of the UK Government.
“It is telling that such a fall occurred only months after UKBA announced the end to its post-study work route for international students.
“Scottish higher education still has a world-class offer to talented international students, despite being put a competitive disadvantage as a result of changes to immigration.”