Scottish universities concerned by drop in international students

The organisation responsible for looking after the interests of Scotland’s universities has called on the British government to do more to make the country more welcoming to international students.

Universities Scotland has described a drop in the number of international student enrolments to Scottish institutions from China, India and Nigeria as ‘worrying’ and called for Government action.

Higher Education Statistics Agency figures show that in 2013/14 there was a 2 per cent decline in first year enrolments by students from China on the previous year, a 9 per cent decline in students from Nigeria and a 12 per cent decline in students from India.

One of the recommendations of the Smith Commission – the commission announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of the Scottish Independence referendum last September – was that the Scottish and Westminster Governments should work together to “explore the possibility of introducing formal schemes to allow international higher education students graduating from Scottish further and higher education institutions to remain in Scotland and contribute to economic activity for a defined period of time.”

And Scottish National Party MSP, George Adam, has urged the government to make good on this promise amid reports of now aborted plans to send international students home the moment their course ends.

“The Tories’ repeated effort to sound tough on immigration by forcing highly skilled graduates to leave the country is nothing short of economic vandalism,” he said.  “It does nothing but undermine Scotland’s economy to take such a ludicrous stance when it comes to student immigration.

“The Smith Commission called for Westminster to work with the Scottish Government on this issue and today’s warning from Universities Scotland only increases the urgency of the issue,” he added.