International students will be barred from bringing their spouses and children to the United Kingdom unless they study “high-value” degrees, The Times (UK) reports.
Degrees considered important to the UK government include science, maths, and engineering
The report said UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman, the home secretary, were becoming more concerned after a near-eightfold rise in the number of family members joining foreign students.
The UK permits dependants to accompany their spouses or parent(s) who have a valid student visa.
In 2022, Nigerians accounted for the highest increase in the number of dependants accompanying persons with study visas for the year.
Nigerian nationals also accounted for the largest increase in sponsored study grants compared with 2019, increasing by 57,545 (+686%) to a record high of 65,929, making them the third largest nationality group in the latest year.
The Times reported that the new immigration figures showed that 490,763 students were given visas last year.
They were accompanied by 135,788 dependants — spouses and children –up from 16,047 in 2019.
Foreign students would also be banned from bringing families unless they are studying at a higher level, such as a master’s degree or PhD, the report added.
However, universities and members of parliament from all parties criticised the proposals, pointing to research suggesting that foreign students contribute £35 billion a year to the economy.
The development is the latest in Braverman’s “aspirations” to restrict migrants from entering the UK.