For decades, students from across the globe have come to prestigious UK universities to study and in many cases, remain here for work. Student visas are one of the most common form of visas issued to foreign nationals coming to the UK, with the year ending March 2017 seeing 208,906 student visas granted.
What’s more, 77,290 of them were Chinese nationals; in-spite of a popular view that Britain is becoming increasingly inward looking and hostile to immigrants, more and more students want to study in the UK.
But it’s certainly not down to a seamless visa application process. It seems that UK border control is determined to make it as difficult as possible for foreign nationals living outside the European Economic Area to gain any kind of visa. In fact, Britain was described by one business school dean as “less attractive than the US, Canada or Australia” mainly due to the difficulty of gaining Tier 2 work visas post-study, a deal breaker for many students hoping to develop a career in the country they studied in.
According to a report in March 2016 from the Chartered Institute of Business Schools, the billions in tuition fees, accommodation costs and other spending that makes up their huge contribution to the UK economy, has been in slow decline. However, that was last year; 2017 has shown some improvement.
But what about the experiences of Chinese students? Is a UK degree really worth it?
According to research conducted by the Centre for Global Higher Education, 89% of Chinese students that participated in the study, stayed behind in the UK following their bachelor’s degree to study for a masters. 59% were able to find employment within three months, with the rest managing to find work within a year. Above all, 90% of them said they valued their overseas learning experience, not only due to the enhancement their UK has given them, but the ‘soft skills’ they’ve picked up, such as tolerance for other cultures, allowing them to be true global citizens on the ever-shrinking world stage.
It’s clear that the Chinese will, for now at least, continue to hold UK universities in high regard and their desire to study here is still very much alive. The government should be doing everything they can to welcome them.
Navigating the minefield that is the UK visa application process can be a complex and often frustrating process. For more information about UK visa applications, visit the Immigration Advice Service for expert legal advice.