UK fears a £108 billion decline to creative sector as int’l student numbers reduce

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Creative UK, representing the creative industries, has raised concerns over the potential elimination of post-graduation work options for international students in the United Kingdom (UK), fearing it could impact the sector’s annual £108 billion contribution to the creative economy. Universities have observed a significant decline in applications from international students, prompting worries among leaders about the repercussions of further visa restrictions on Britain’s creative sectors.

The graduate visa scheme, allowing international graduates to work in the UK for up to three years, faces uncertainty pending a report from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). Earlier restrictions on international students this year have already led to a decrease in overseas applications, with a survey showing a 27% drop in total applications for taught postgraduate courses compared to the previous year.

Creative UK and Universities UK have jointly appealed to the government to maintain the graduate visa route, highlighting the importance of international graduates to the creative industries, now exceeding the combined value of aerospace, life sciences, and automotive sectors. The potential removal of the graduate visa is seen as a threat to the vibrancy of the UK’s academic and research landscape, with declining international student numbers risking the financial sustainability of universities and triggering course closures and staff redundancies.

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