UK Student visa policy changes: Industry experts clarify impact on international students

The United Kingdom recently implemented significant changes in its student visa policies, sparking discussions about its impacts on immigrants. However, international education industry experts from the British Council shed light on the limited effect of these alterations on international students.


Effective January 2024, international students enrolled in postgraduate research programs will no longer be permitted to bring their dependents and family members to the country. Notably, this restriction excludes students in Master of Research (MRes) and Doctorate programs. 


According to Rittika Chanda Parruck MBE, Director of Education India at the British Council, the impact of this change is expected to be minimal. Parruck emphasised that most UK postgraduate programs are relatively short-term, typically lasting around a year. Consequently, she claimed that the changes do not significantly affect the overall educational experience or opportunities available in the UK, especially when compared to study durations in other major international education destinations. 


Importantly, Parruck clarified that the policy adjustment does not impede alternative visa routes such as the Graduate Route, Young Professionals Scheme, visit visas or Skilled Work visas. Related rules for undergraduate students remained unchanged; they are still not permitted to bring dependents.  


Addressing misconceptions, Parruck noted that the changes in the dependent visa policy are likely to impact only a segment of international students and programs, with built-in exceptions for specific student categories. 


Despite these modifications, the United Kingdom remains a highly attractive destination for international students, buoyed by its top universities and cutting-edge research facilities. The country’s reputation for providing quality education at prestigious institutions continues to draw students globally. Importantly, the number of international students pursuing education in the UK has steadily risen, reflecting the enduring appeal of British academia. 


To know more about study options and our partner institutions across Europe, please visit our upGrad GSP platform or contact our Business Development Managers for more information.  

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