The UK government announced the move as a temporary measure while it organizes a more permanent solution. Only students who are on research postgraduate degrees such as a PhD will be exempt from the new UK dependent visa rules.
Previous indications that the government would allow dependents of students at certain top universities to enter the country under a merit-based approach appear to have been scrapped.
There have been no changes to the current graduate visa system which allows degree graduates to stay and work in the UK after finishing their programs.
The new rules, announced by home secretary Suella Braverman, also stipulate that international students will be unable to switch from a study visa to a work visa before finishing their degree. This comes after reports of a growing trend of students switching visas on arrival into the UK.
In a ministerial statement announcing the new rules, Braverman wrote, “The International Education Strategy plays an important part in supporting the economy through the economic contribution students can bring to the UK, but this should not be at the expense of our commitment to the public to lower overall migration and ensure that migration to the UK is highly skilled and therefore provides the most benefit.”
International students in the UK contributed more than $50 billion between 2021 and 2022, according to a recent study by Kaplan International Pathways, Universities UK International, and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).