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UK international numbers decline: How to avoid becoming a statistic

David Cameron's vow to reduce net migration in the UK has seemingly come at the cost of international students, if annual numbers of such visa applications are to be believed.

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This year has seen a large fall in incoming international students to the UK, with the finger being pointed squarely at David Cameron’s vow to reduce net migration.

Almost 90,000 less people migrated to the UK in the twelve months up to September 2012, compared to the previous year. The simultaneous 46% drop in student visas being granted is considered to have heavily contributed to this good news for the government, which has prioritised immigration control. This a hollow victory according to Sarah Mulley of the Institute for Public Policy Research, who points out that most students only remain the UK for a few years even after graduating. Meanwhile, by making international students the primary scapegoat, those who do abuse the system in other ways, are ignored.

Mulley went on to note the financial value of international students to academic institutions in this difficult recession. There is also the positive cultural impact they have on the country, and the promotion they provide when they speak to family and friends.


What can applicants do?

In December, we reported that international students hoping to study in the UK would face new visa interviews, and have to possess stronger English language skills than before. So how can you avoid becoming a statistic, and ensure your dream of studying in the UK comes true?


You may be required to have a face-to-face interview with a university before you are accepted to study. In order to avoid being cast as someone seeking immigration rather than an education, you have to illustrate why you want to study the particular course you have applied to. Note why it is important that you study this course in the UK, or that specific university (this might require a little research into the university and their cultural or historical ties to that field).

Unfortunately, some are not good interviewees because of problems articulating what they want to say or dealing with pressure (made all the more difficult when speaking in a second language). Practice with friends and family beforehand, by answering questions they are likely to ask you; however in the interview, try not to sound like you have rehearsed too much. Be personable and friendly, answer the questions asked of you, and show that you take the field and institution seriously.

Language skills

Most vastly improve thier language skills as they live in a new country. However, unlike in the past, you may not be able to rely so heavily on improving your language skills as you study; you will have to show a good to high understanding of the English language before you begin as well. If you have already passed the set IELTS requirements for your university, this is a great start and should boost your confidence. But don’t stop there or become complacent; keep working on these skills right up until you leave. Have a look at some of our unconventional tips for honing you language skills, as well as the more standardised methods. 



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About Author

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Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.