The Challenges of International Student Recruitment in 2024

In what will be an election year for much of the Western world, governments are tightening their immigration rules related to student visas, to address public concerns over the strain that significant student immigration can place on local housing and employment markets, and public services.

In the UK, new restrictions have been placed on students bringing dependents with them to live in the UK for the duration of their course. This is partly to ensure that the primary reason for a student being in the UK is to study, and partly to counter the 930% rise in dependent visas since 2019.

Further changes also prevent individuals switching from a student visa to a work visa until their studies are completed.

UK Visas granted to student dependents for Indian, Nigerian and other nationalities, and proportion of all sponsored study related visas issued to dependents, year ending September 2019 to 2023

In the Netherlands, a group of fourteen universities has agreed to curb the number of courses taught in English, to prioritise local language courses, giving full accessibility to Dutch-speaking students, and to ease the pressure placed on student accommodation by large numbers of international students.  

Measures are more wide reaching in Canada where new caps on international student numbers over the next two years will result in a drop of 35% in the number of permits over those issued in 2023.  This is intended to tackle a severe housing shortage and provide a breathing space for universities to resolve accommodation issues. Quotas will be by province meaning that areas currently popular with overseas students will be more tightly restricted.

Additionally, those international students who study at private institutions in Canada will no longer be eligible for post-grad work permits. Further, only the spouses of students on masters or doctoral programs will be granted work permits.

Australia’s government has tightened their rules on incoming students to curb the practice of gaining a student visa before switching from high cost courses at prestigious institutions, to lower cost courses and colleges.  Students will also be required to achieve a higher standard of English before qualifying for a student visa.

The hours that students are allowed to work have also been restricted, in part to address concerns of universities that students were spending too much time working and not enough studying, resulting in poorer outcomes for both the individual and the institution.

Combined these measures will limit those students who can study in Australia.

International Student Numbers –


The alterations to student visas, and measures imposed by different governments all serve to restrict the number of overseas students who can attend, the services and resources they utilise or the privileges to which they have access. 

Yet it is widely accepted that international students have a mostly positive influence on host nations, adding to GDP, bringing innovation, providing research expertise, filling labour gaps and contributing significantly to local economies.  

For universities, it is clear that their objectives are much more of a balancing act. Institutions must strive to attract the highest quality international applicants, to ensure that the university maintains or improves its place in the world rankings, and through this, attracts research dollars.  At the same time, it must continue to generate sufficient revenue through the fees of well-funded international students to underwrite the undergraduate education of their domestic cohort.

Qualification Check’s verification solutions support universities to recruit efficiently by helping to streamline admissions, maintain visa-granting licences, sift out fraudulent applications and diversify into new regions  For further information contact [email protected]


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