This week’s news comes from the UK and US, with continued confusion surrounding vaccination requirements for international students and a growth in non-EU UCAS applications.
In the US, a leading Senator has spearheaded a letter campaign against ongoing student visa delays for international students.
Here’s your weekly higher education news roundup.
Non-EU UCAS applications increase by 9% in the UK
Recently released data from UCAS in the UK has shown a 56% decrease in accepted applicants from EU countries this year. This is in contrast to non-EU applications which rose by 9% to 37,310.
EU numbers have been dropping for several years, with a decrease from 26,440 in 2019.
The UK’s two biggest markets, China and India, saw modest increases, with Malaysia increasing by 33% and the United States by 33%, and Nigeria up by 40%.
The Chief Executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, Anne Marie Graham, welcomed the record number of students accepted from outside the European Union.
In a tweet, she said, “Great news from UCAS this morning that a record figure for acceptance for international students outside the EU. UKCISA looks forward to supporting them in their UK education journey!”
Universities UK also welcomed the record of 435,430 students with confirmed applications.
Chief Executive Alistair Jarvis said that “Embarking on a degree is a uniquely exciting time, with the skills and experience students set to gain lasting a lifetime, giving them an edge in the employment market and generating significant benefits for the UK as we rebuild from the pandemic.”
These new figures show a continuing trend away from EU students entering the UK higher education market, thought to be caused in part by the UK’s exit from the European Union at the start of 2020.
US Senator Padilla leads letter campaign against student visa delays
Leading US Senator for California Alex Padilla (DEM), has written a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressing his “continued concerns” regarding visa delays for those in the higher education sector.
Delays have plagued the US’ visa process for international students for the new academic year this autumn and have caused mounting concerns for politicians, students and higher education institutions.
In the letter, signed by 24 US senators, Senator Padilla writes:
“In order to welcome international students and scholars in the fall, as competitor countries are doing, we urge the State department to provide predictable and consistent consular services; maximise alternatives to in-person visa interviews by providing waivers and virtual interviews; extend visa eligibility waivers; authorise staff overtime and increase hiring; and initiate meaningful engagement with outside stakeholders and agencies.”
The letter addresses the ongoing visa issues at US embassies across the world, with issues also being reported with US citizens as well. Currently, there is a waiting time of up to 18 weeks for passport renewals.
The State department has credited delays to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
International student Covid-19 vaccine requirement confusion continues
International students looking to come to the United States for the new academic year this autumn are being presented with a confusing scene surrounding Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
Some students have been advised that they will require additional vaccinations, and state-level restrictions mean that requirements can vary greatly between institutions.
Identified by The Chronicle of Higher Education, 662 universities and colleges are currently requiring students or staff to be vaccinated before they return to campus for the new year. However, the vaccine they require depends on the institution.
With an absence of federal mandate surrounding vaccinations, institutions across the country are developing their own policies in regards to which vaccinations are accepted before a student enters the campus.
The majority of institutions are only accepting FDA or WHO approved vaccines, however many countries internationally are not offering their population Covid-19 vaccinations that do not meet these requirements.
The picture is further complicated by state-level restrictions, with some states restricting the ability of colleges to ban vaccination requirements. This means that public institutions in states like Florida will not be able to make vaccinations compulsory, private institutions are able to.