The UK international education sector stakeholders have said the country should look at new funding initiatives to deal with its image as an "expensive" study destination and make it more affordable for international students.
Various actions could be taken to improve the financing of international students' studies in the UK. One of these actions could be to lower the visa and health surcharge costs for international students. Other measures could include introducing a loan system for overseas students.
Sanam Arora, the head of an Indian student organisation in the UK, said that a loan scheme could be easily implemented. Speaking at a conference organised by the Higher Education Forum, she noted that a loan scheme could be easily implemented.
A mutual fund could also be established that would support international students and their families. She noted that banks could also cooperate with Indian financial institutions.
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According to her, a mutual fund could help students save and manage their money. It would also be very beneficial if banks could partner with Indian financial institutions to offer similar programs. She suggested that the UK could benefit from having a mutual fund industry as it would allow people to easily transfer their money to other banks.
The money that international students receive comes from either their home country or from private lenders. Usually, these loans are offered at favourable terms.
Private lenders are not bound by any government regulations or guarantees. Instead, they can offer favourable terms through their various loan products. Although introducing an international loan system would be very helpful for international students, implementing it would have to be done in a way that's compatible with the UK's existing regulations.
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This is because the UK doesn't want to introduce an income-contingent scheme due to various factors. Some of these include the cost of implementing such a program and the country's political situation.
Availing of an income-contingent loan scheme would require a cap on how much money international students could borrow and the institution's charges. In 2020, a group of international students' organizations proposed establishing a loan system that would allow international students to get government-backed financing.
However, since the UK's 2021 entry deadline coincides with the European Union's deadline, EU students won't be eligible to receive the domestic loan and fee opportunities.
Unlike in the US, the UK is not seen as a place where students can receive grants and scholarships. Despite the country's popularity, the UK is still perceived as expensive compared to other countries. For international students, this is mainly due to the high cost of living in the UK and visa requirements.
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Gwion Sims, an international recruitment consultant at the University of York, noted that the UK's high cost of living is mainly due to visa requirements and other living expenses. He also noted that the UK might start to reach the limit on how much tuition fees and costs can be charged.
Sims said that apart from improving the quality of education, UK universities should also work together with other institutions to provide a personalized international experience.
Although he would like to see lower visa costs, Sims also wants to see the expansion of the Chevening scheme, which provides a lower health surcharge for international students. He also believed that improving the quality of education would be very attractive for international students.
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Source: The PIE News