By Laura Cotton
Scotland’s international reputation for education risks being damaged by Westminster policies, according to NUS (National Union of Students) Scotland.
Ahead of his trip to India, Prime Minister David Cameron told Indian media that he hoped the number of Indian students in the UK would increase in the future and he urged them to come to the UK and study.
However this comes after some confusion in the change to immigration rules.
Changes introduced last year mean foreign students will only be able to remain in the UK after graduating if they get a graduate-level job with a salary of at least £20,000 from an accredited employer. Critics have said this has contributed to a fall in the number of Indians and other foreign students applying.
Robin Parker, President of the NUS (National Union of Students) Scotland, said: “International students provide huge cultural and educational benefits to Scotland’s college and universities, and its communities. If that were not enough, the economic contributions that international students inject into local economies, as we attempt to recover from this financial downturn, shouldn’t be underestimated.”
Concern over increased competition for Scottish students is controlled by the Scottish Funding Council who require universities to recruit a minimum number of Scottish students or face fines. The Council also have a maximum they can recruit due to the Scottish Government paying tuition fees for Scottish students, which enables the government to know how much they will spend on yearly education funding.
Mr Parker said: “The Home Secretary needs to urgently review these misguided visa rules for international students, which are damaging the reputation of Scotland’s education sector. We also make sure that the UKBA is not unfairly rejecting talented students from abroad looking to share their knowledge with students in Scotland.”
Figures released from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) last year showed that Scotland is the only part of the UK which has seen a rise in university and college admissions.