Is it worth going to UK for graduate studies in 2024?

A picture of a crumpled UK flag

For the last 3 to 4 years, UK has become one of the popular study abroad destinations for international students. One year masters and a two year graduate visa upon successful completion made UK a favorable choice for a lot of students, and along with that the option to bring along dependents was convenient for individuals with families.

However, a lot has changed in the past 6 months (as of writing this article). It’s no longer possible to bring along dependents unless the student is enrolled in a research degree at doctorate level. Visa fees, NHS fees, combined has been increased by more than 50%. The minimum salary requirement for a sponsored visa has been more than doubled to £38,000 per year. Even before these changes were introduced, getting a full time job was difficult for international students. These changes only made it worse.

As an international student myself, I experienced first had how hard it is to find a job in UK right now. Even surviving day to day with a part time job has become difficult. From the people in my network, I found that a few people who had previous working experience in the relevant field were able to find a full time job on graduate visa. This was before the new visa rules came into effect. Students without any experience though are struggling hard to find employment. Big firms and companies which used to hire a international students are also backing down because of the increase in minimum salary requirement.

All these changes had some ripple effects that are being observed across different industries. Below is a list of information bites that might give an understanding for someone who is trying to assess whether it’s worth going to UK for graduate studies.

24 April 2024
KPMG UK cancels foreign graduate job offers after tighter visa rules

Depending on region and business line, the Big Four — Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC — typically pay first-year graduates between £25,000 and £35,000 in the UK, meaning they are directly affected by the new visa rules.

With the exception of junior actuaries, KPMG has stopped hiring overseas graduates who need skilled worker visas outside of London as a result of the changes to the eligibility rules.

KPMG UK cancels foreign graduate job offers after tighter visa rules, Simon Foy, Financial Times

11 April 2024
Changes to legal migration rules for family and work visas in 2024

What are the five changes?

1. Social care workers are no longer allowed to bring dependants (that is, partners and children) on their visa.

2. The baseline minimum salary to be sponsored for a Skilled Worker visa has increased from £26,200 to £38,700, while the ‘going rate’ minimum salary specific to each job has also gone up significantly.

3. A list of jobs for which it is possible to sponsor someone for a Skilled Worker visa at a reduced minimum salary has been made shorter and renamed the Immigration Salary List.

4. The minimum income normally required to sponsor someone for a spouse/partner visa has risen from £18,600 to to £29,000.

5. The Graduate visa, a two-year unsponsored work permit for overseas graduates of British universities, is being reviewed.

Changes to legal migration rules for family and work visas in 2024, CJ McKinney, Melanie Gower, Research Briefing, House of Common Library

05 April 2024
Swansea University cuts nearly 200 jobs amid financial difficulties

The institution confirmed 189 employees had volunteered for redundancy since a scheme opened in September.

The cuts come as an academic called on the Welsh government to review higher education funding.

Prof Dylan Jones-Evans said there was an over-reliance on recruiting foreign students, who pay higher fees.

He said that was compounding a difficult financial situation for universities.

“There have been changes to the visa system and there are less foreign students coming to Wales,” Prof Jones-Evans told Newyddion S4C.

Swansea University cuts nearly 200 jobs amid financial difficulties, Gwyn Loader, BBC

31 March 2024
…a funding crisis for universities…

Sunak’s willingness to clamp down on international student numbers coincides with what one expert called a funding crisis for universities that could undermine the entire sector.

At the last general election, the Conservative party under Boris Johnson claimed it would “maintain and strengthen our global position in higher education”. The manifesto’s immigration section pledged: “Our student visa will help universities attract talented young people and allow those students to stay on to apply for work here after they graduate.”

But the political climate around immigration has changed dramatically. By the end of last year, James Cleverly, the home secretary, was declaring that “enough is enough” and announcing plans to review post-study work visas, which allow international graduates to stay and work in the UK for two years.

Sunak posted on social media: “Immigration is too high. Today we’re taking radical action to bring it down,” including by “banning overseas students from bringing their families to the UK”.

Sunak’s student visas clampdown continues boom-and-bust pattern, Richard Adams, Education Editor, The Guardian

28 Jan 2024
Major blow to UK universities: The decline of international students

University officials are sounding the alarm over the decline in international student applications, particularly from those who contribute significantly to finances through higher tuition fees. This decline threatens financial stability as universities typically rely on the revenue from these students to subsidize the cost of educating domestic students, with institutions like the University of Lincoln slashing spending by 20%. This precarious situation is underscored by the University of York’s reported £24 million deficit and a concerning 16% drop in international student enrollment, highlighting the broader financial challenges faced by universities, as reported by the Financial Times and BBC News.

Major blow to UK universities: The decline of international students, Benjamin Laker, Forbes

11 Jan 2024
University of York to accept some overseas students with lower grades

The University of York has told staff to take a “more flexible approach” to admitting overseas students with lower-than-expected grades, in the latest sign that UK higher education is facing severe recruitment and financial pressures.

Staff at the Russell Group university were told: “In response to the current financial challenges, the university has decided to lower its tariff for all departments and programmes for overseas applicants,” according to an email reported by the Financial Times.

While York maintains that a typical offer for undergraduate applicants requires A grades at A-level, the university will now admit some international applicants as undergraduates with the equivalent of B or C at A-level, while entry to postgraduate courses would require a 2:2 award or similar, rather than a 2:1.

University of York to accept some overseas students with lower grades, Richard Adams, Education Editor, The Guardian

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