Universities Rely On International Students – Report


A report by the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee has warned that universities in England are increasingly dependent on international students to compensate for frozen tuition fees and increased costs. The report states that neither the government nor the Office for Students (OfS) is addressing the “looming crisis” in the higher education sector. The OfS is criticized for lacking independence and not paying sufficient attention to the financial risks facing universities that rely heavily on international and postgraduate students due to the tuition fee cap and loss of European Union research funding. The report calls on the government to establish a stable, long-term funding model for the sector.

The committee also highlights the potential impact of “geopolitical shifts” on student numbers, particularly those from China. The OfS has written to 23 providers with high levels of Chinese students to ensure they have contingency plans in case of a sudden drop in overseas students.

The report also calls for the OfS to hold more regular talks with universities about their financial situation and for tougher consequences for universities that do not provide clear information to prospective students about course costs and learning modes. It also suggests that politicians serving on independent regulators should resign from their party before chairing such bodies to ensure independence.

The OfS responded by stating it is “alive to the significant risks” facing the sector and that it will continue to identify risks and use its tools to protect students’ interests. The Department for Education argued that the sector remains financially stable overall and that international students make up only 15% of all undergraduate entrants at UK providers.

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