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UK Universities Face Decline in Funding Due to Decline in Foreign Student Applications

UK Universities Face Decline in Foreign Student Applications

The annual QS 2025 university rankings, released on Tuesday, suggest that some of the top United Kingdom’s (UK) universities might see a decline in their appeal due to reduced funding and stricter regulations on overseas students.

Despite four British universities maintaining their positions in the top 10 of more than 1,000 institutions ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS)—a leading global ranking alongside the Times and Shanghai Jiao Tong University—there are concerns about the future.

Imperial College London, acclaimed for its science programs, climbed from sixth to second place, surpassing the traditionally dominant “Oxbridge” duo for the first time, with Oxford and Cambridge ranking third and fifth, respectively.

However, the rankings also indicate a downward trend for many UK institutions. Out of the 90 British universities included, more than half (52) experienced a drop in their standings.

Jessica Turner, head of QS, noted that the latest results highlight the challenges facing British higher education, including funding shortages, declining student applications, and new restrictions on international student intake.

In recent months, the Conservative government has implemented measures aimed at reducing regular migration, which it considers excessive. These measures include barring overseas students from bringing dependents and raising the minimum salary required for skilled worker visas.

These policies have faced criticism from universities, which rely heavily on the higher fees paid by international students to support their budgets. According to government statistics, the first four months of this year saw 30,000 fewer student visa applications compared to the same period in 2023.

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