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The United Kingdom has long held a magnetic appeal for students worldwide, renowned for its prestigious universities and diverse cultural experiences.

However, recent changes in visa fees announced by the UK government have raised concerns about how accessible and affordable higher education will be for international students. These changes include adjustments to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and updates to visa application fees.

In this blog, we’ll explore what these changes mean and how they might affect the financial aspects of pursuing education in the UK.

Rising Costs for International Students

International students have always been an integral part of the UK’s higher education landscape, contributing not only to the academic environment but also to the economy. The proposed changes in visa fees are set to impact their financial planning, potentially altering the dynamics of pursuing education in the UK.

As it stands, the IHS fee, which international students are required to pay, is set to rise from £470 to £776 annually. For a student undertaking a four-year course, this could lead to an increase of up to £1,220 in healthcare surcharge costs alone. Additionally, a 20% increase in visa application fees will see short-term study visas rise to around £240, while long-term study visas could increase to around £435.

Challenges to Post-Study Prospects

One of the cornerstones of studying abroad is the prospect of gaining valuable work experience after graduation. The two-year post-study graduate visa, introduced to attract international talent to the UK, could face challenges due to the higher costs associated with staying and working in the country. The increased financial burden on graduates might influence their decisions on utilising this visa option, thereby impacting the UK’s ability to retain skilled professionals who contribute to its workforce.

Implications for Universities:

UK universities have thrived on the diversity and talent that international students bring to their campuses. International students contributed £42bn to the UK economy in 2021/22. According to the report, students studying in Glasgow, London, Sheffield, Nottingham and Newcastle are among those to deliver the greatest financial boost.

However, the escalating visa fees could potentially deter prospective students from considering the UK as their preferred destination. Many universities rely heavily on the higher tuition fees paid by international students, which often cross-subsidize domestic education and contribute significantly to institutional revenues. The decision-making process for potential international students may shift if alternative countries with more favourable fee structures become more attractive.

Impact on Dependents:

The revised visa fee structure extends its impact beyond students themselves. Dependents of international students, such as partners and children, are also subject to higher expenses due to increased healthcare surcharges.

While the government’s aim to generate additional funds for the National Health Service (NHS) is commendable, there is a concern that these fee hikes could strain families emotionally and financially, affecting the overall academic performance of international students.

Preserving Cultural and Academic Diversity:

The implications of these visa fee changes are not limited to financial aspects alone. The UK’s reputation as a melting pot of cultures and ideas could be at stake, as potential students may opt for more affordable alternatives elsewhere. The rich academic and cultural diversity that international students bring to campuses is essential for fostering global perspectives and enriching the educational experience for all.

Navigating Rising Visa Fees: A Strategic Approach with Orlo

In the face of the visa fee hikes impacting international students, universities find themselves in a unique position to provide crucial support and guidance. Social media management platforms, such as Orlo, offer a strategic avenue for educational institutions to address this challenge head-on and extend a helping hand to their students.

Here’s how universities can leverage the power of Orlo to navigate the complexities of increased visa costs:

1. Real-time Communication and Informed Guidance

As students grapple with the financial implications of rising visa fees, they are seeking immediate answers and reassurance. Whether it’s understanding the breakdown of costs or exploring scholarship options, universities can employ Orlo to proactively address questions, dispel misconceptions, and offer actionable advice that empowers students to make well-informed decisions.

2. Seamless Interaction through Orlo Inbox

International students often navigate a maze of information, seeking clarity and personalised guidance on various fronts. Utilising the Orlo Inbox, universities can create a dynamic space for students to inquire about visa fee payment schedules, explore financial aid options, and even connect with alumni who successfully navigated similar challenges, fostering a sense of community and shared resilience.

3. Anticipating Concerns with Social Listening

Students frequently turn to social media platforms to share their thoughts and concerns. By tapping into Orlo’s Social Listening capabilities, universities can gain real-time insights into student sentiment, identifying recurring pain points or misconceptions related to visa fee changes. This knowledge empowers institutions to design targeted messaging campaigns that directly address these concerns, fostering a sense of proactive support.

4. Smart Decision-Making with Performance Analytics

To handle the changes in visa fees effectively, universities need to be flexible and quick to respond. With the help of Orlo’s Performance Analytics, universities can check how well their messages are reaching students through different communication channels. They can see which strategies are working best and make adjustments right away. This ongoing process ensures that international students get the information they need in a way that suits them.

5. Harnessing AI-Powered Insights for Strategic Impact

The depth of data available in digital interactions is a goldmine of insights waiting to be unlocked. Orlo’s AI-powered Insights sifts through this vast repository, identifying patterns and trends that offer profound understanding into students’ evolving needs. Armed with these insights, universities can strategically allocate resources, introduce timely initiatives such as financial literacy workshops, or even collaborate with financial institutions to offer tailored solutions that ease the financial burden of rising visa fees.

Wrap it up

The UK’s higher education sector is at a crossroads, with the proposed visa fee changes potentially reshaping the landscape for international students. While the government’s intent to bolster funding for essential services is clear, striking a balance between fiscal considerations and maintaining the UK’s appeal as an educational hub for global talent is crucial.

As detailed information on the revised visa fee structure is awaited, international students, universities, and policymakers must work together to ensure that higher education remains accessible, diverse, and enriching for all.

This is where Orlo can help. Our cutting-edge platform empowers universities to not only weather these changes but thrive within them. With Orlo’s dynamic tools, institutions can seamlessly communicate the evolving visa landscape to students, ensuring timely updates on financial aid options and scholarship opportunities.

Ready to see this transformation in action? Secure your institution’s path forward by booking a demo with our experts today.

The Orlo team are all here to support you, with great tips, tricks and updates. Orlonians are a bunch of genuine people who work hard every day to support our customers in delivering the best possible customer experience through digital channels.