Immigration moved to the forefront of the political discussion in more than one country over the past year, increasing public attention on international students in destinations that include Britain, Canada, and Australia.
Britain, which attracts more overseas students than any country but the United States, set a largely negative tone. Its coalition government has pledged to reduce the number of immigrants, and, despite intense lobbying by universities, has chosen to include students in those figures.
The British government’s recent elimination of the so-called work entitlement for foreign students at private institutions, in a bid to eliminate abuses by universities that primarily enrolled students whose main goal was to work illegally, has had an impact on legitimate institutions as well.
Some 100 private universities that enrolled foreign students studying for two-year degrees offered in collaboration with universities or students aiming to transfer to universities have closed down in the past year, says Dominic Scott, chief executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs. While the crackdown has eliminated bogus institutions, it has also affected many that “were quite good,” he says.
Although foreign enrollments at public universities have held relatively steady, they are unlikely to grow significantly, Mr. Scott says. And there are worries that the crackdown on private institutions will have a ripple effect, as one source of potential students has essentially been eliminated.