The Overseas Student Dilemma

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the Economist, primarily for ideological reasons. However, reading some of their articles from time to time is unavoidable – like when your father reads next to you on the couch. While he was flipping through the various columns, my eye caught one short article entitled “Overseas Student: How to ruin a global brand”. This paragraph, in particular, caught my attention, even though its contents don’t come as a surprise given the UKBA’s actions against London Metropolitan University and the restrictions on student visas:

…foreign students, whether educated in British private schools or elsewhere, are decreasingly likely to go to English universities. According to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, 307,200 overseas students began their studies in the country in 2012-13, down from 312,000 two years earlier and the first drop in 29 years. Student numbers from the rest of the EU fell—probably a result of the increase in annual tuition fees in England from £6,000 ($10,000) a year to £9,000. But arrivals from India and Pakistan declined most sharply.

(Bangladeshis would have been mentioned as well but compared to Indian and Pakistani students, the number of Bangladeshi students studying in the UK is infinitesimal. Moreover, a large number of Bangladeshi students who currently pursue Higher Education in the UK, go to study the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and that number is not likely to decrease because of student visa restrictions or tuition fees but because of more rigorous entry standards and testing.)

I find it as no surprise that America, Australia and Canada are becoming more favored destinations for students, due to their less stringent post-study work requirements.

This is a blog dedicated mainly to students interested in pursuing the Bar and I’ve always maintained that the value of becoming a Barrister diminishes if you cannot obtain some relevant work experience after your studies. The new visa-regime, which gives students “four months to find a job paying upwards of GBP 20,600”, coupled with an ultra-competitive market for pupillages means that international students do not have a realistic chance of becoming active members of the English Bar. (This perhaps goes without saying as many worthy home students are not able to secure pupillage, much less one that awards more than GBP 20,600 per annum.) Instead, the cleverer and/or more ambitious international students are ‘widening the net’ and searching for jobs outside of their field of specialty – which ultimately may lead to talented individuals leaving the Bar and the legal profession altogether. Others, in search of education and experience, may simply go to the shores of other Commonwealth countries.





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