International students welcome at Leicester - response to Home Office announcement

The UK Government has today confirmed that the graduate route will remain in place for international students of all UK universities. The graduate route allows international students to remain in the UK upon graduation for two years (on average) after successful completing a relevant course in the UK.

In response to the announcement President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester Professor Nishan Canagarajah said:

“At Leicester, we welcome students from more than 150 countries and they contribute to the diverse educational community that makes our University so special. They, in turn, benefit from studying at a leading UK university which has a track record for teaching and research excellence – we are a top 30 university in the Research Excellence Framework and rated Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework.

“International students offer global perspectives and important skills allowing all students to benefit from the exchange of ideas, the discovery of new cultures and a widened world view. As the MAC recognised, they are also critical to the financial sustainability of our universities.

“International students bring a £41 billion annual contribution to the UK, meaning on average, each of the 650 parliamentary constituencies in the UK is £58 million better off – equivalent to approximately £560 per citizen. In the East Midlands alone, international students’ off-campus expenditure is around £353 million. Their spending has funded 3,093 jobs.”

Professor Canagarajah also spoke about the MAC review’s evaluation of international recruitment agents.

He said: “At the University of Leicester we value immensely the contribution of our network of agent partners who offer crucial support to students all over the world in shaping their Higher Education journey. The MAC review’s recommendations for regulation of international agents are warmly welcomed and build on work already underway which, notably, has been initiated from within the sector itself.  

 “Our agents are an indispensable extension of our inspiring international recruitment team, many of whom are themselves Leicester graduates. Agents allow us to reach far beyond the capacity of our own resource and communicate our ambition to provide internationally diverse and inclusive education.”

The UK Government had been expected to make a decision on the future of the visa following the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) review of the route, which published its recommendations on 14 May. The MAC, which is an independent body, recommended the graduate route should be retained in its current form.

The announcement from the Department for Education came early today, on the same day that net migration data is published by the Office for National Statistics. ONS’s data shows that net migration numbers on study visas fell by 25%, or 80,000, between December 2023 and December 2024. It is important to note that the data to year-end December 2023, covers a period before the implementation of changes to government policy which ended the dependents’ visa for international postgraduate students; this came into force on 1 January 2024. Further falls in international student demand have been experienced since 1 January 2024 but will take longer to appear in national statistics.