The Royal Academy of Engineering welcomes the conclusions of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee inquiry into the impact of immigration rules on applications by international STEM students to UK universities.

According to the report of the inquiry, to which the Academy was invited to provide evidence, university engineering departments throughout the UK are potentially being undermined in their overseas student recruitment by instability in the visa regulations and by the negative perception of the country as an unwelcoming destination by some international students.

As part of the Academy's evidence, figures were provided that show a significant drop in students coming to the UK to study for postgraduate taught MSc courses in engineering since the major changes in visas in 2011. According to the report, the total number of international STEM students choosing the UK as their destination fell by 8% in 2011/12 and by a further 2% in 2012/13.

This has especially affected engineering departments, as they are the second highest recruiter of overseas students after business departments. This is particularly worrying at a time when UK plc needs more engineering and STEM graduates to sustain its growth.

Professor Helen Atkinson, Chair of the Academy's Education and Training Committee, past president of the Engineering Professors' Council and Head of the Department of Engineering at the University of Leicester said:

"Over the last two or three years there has been a constantly changing pattern of rules on visas. Even with my experience in the field, I myself sometimes find it hard to understand these changing rules and I think how hard it must be for potential students to keep track of them. The image that is being projected by the UK out into this very competitive international marketplace is one of a lack of welcome".

"It is good that the Committee has recognised these among other important issues and has recommended changes."

Notes for editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK's national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK's role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK's world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook. We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.

For more information please contact:

Giorgio De Faveri at the Royal Academy of Engineering 
Tel: 020 7766 0655
Email: Giorgio De Faveri

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