A UEA report reveals a worrying drop in international applications, alongside national reports of falling domestic applications since the tuition fee hike this year.

These trends may be seen as a result of the home secretary, Theresa May, tightening student visa regulation as part of a wider crackdown on immigration, citing abuse of student visas. The popular tier one student visa, which allows students to work in “highly skilled” roles, has now been closed to new students, whilst increased restrictions on tier four visas are also imminent, by raising barriers such as minimum language standards and limiting dependants an individual may bring with them to study.

An internal report for UEA notes: “[International] applications rose healthily until the tier four consultations in 2010, but since applications from some areas have dropped significantly.” Considerable drops in applicants from the USA, down 17%, and Saudi Arabia and India, 26 & 30% respectively, reflect the UK as an increasingly undesirable place to study.

The report suggests the considerable decline in Indian applications as a direct result of the removal of the tier one visa. Whilst there is more encouragement in the rise in Chinese applications, up 28%, making the overall decline seem less serious, there is concern that current trends pose serious risks on student diversity, and an over reliance on East Asian students to provide important international funding.

Mark Barlow, the Universities’ director of admissions commented: “Leaving China to one side, the overall pattern is cause for concern. Both English-speaking countries and western European universities offering courses in English are reducing our market share.’’ The news brings the coalition government’s higher education policy back into the spotlight, particularly as international students contribute £40bn in revenues to the UK Economy.