After coming in for criticism over harsher student visa restrictions and new measures that have made international students feel less welcome, the British government has unveiled plans to recruit almost 100,000 more overseas students over the next five years.
The plans were part of a new governmental strategy for international education, called International Education - Global Growth and Prosperity that was revealed on Monday. With the sole aim of encouraging students to study in the UK, the initial report said that it is ‘realistic' for overseas student numbers to grow by 15-20% in the next five years, meaning an extra 90,000 students by 2018.
The scheme comes in part as a reaction to the growing dissatisfaction amongst higher education experts at government actions that have been perceived as making international students feel unwelcome in the UK. Indeed, this year, the number of overseas applications for UK universities fell for the first time in 16 years.
Business secretary Vince Cable addressed this issue and emphasised how he hopes to prevent the downturn from becoming a trend:
"We have created an attractive environment and we should sell this in a positive way. We are anxious to reassure you we welcome overseas students and there is no cap on numbers."