In recent years, Canada, the UK, and Australia have competed for the title of the second most popular destination for international students. However, all three countries now seem to be actively avoiding that position.
Marc Miller, Canada’s Immigration Minister, previously likened imposing a cap on international students to “surgery with a hammer.” However, recent policy announcements suggest a shift in approach, with plans to reduce the number of international students coming to Canada by a third. Australia’s Labour government initially expanded post-study work rights for international students in July 2023, only to retract these changes five months later, signalling a fluctuation in pro-international student policies.
Similarly, the UK government’s actions in May 2023 led to restrictions on international students’ rights, including their ability to bring family members to the country and increased application costs. The Home Secretary later announced a review of the Graduate Route to address potential abuse.
The Canadian announcement appears to have the most significant impact, potentially leaving 200,000 to 300,000 students seeking alternative study destinations. This sudden influx, coupled with the allure of permanent residency, presents both challenges and opportunities for other countries, notably the UK.
While the UK could benefit from attracting these students, it must prioritise quality and pre-arrival checks to avoid future issues.