15 UK varsities face layoffs, course closures amid enrollment decline

Alex Omenye
Alex Omenye

At least 15 universities in the United Kingdom have made public announcements regarding staff layoffs and course closures, citing a significant decrease in enrollments of overseas postgraduate students this past January, as reported by University World News.

The decline in enrollments is directly linked to the UK government’s efforts to reduce the number of international students. There are growing concerns that undergraduate student recruitment may also decline in the upcoming academic year, further compounded by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

However, some higher education institutions, particularly those established after the conversion of polytechnics to universities in 1992, have witnessed notable growth in the past year.

These universities, targeting countries outlined in the UK government’s International Education Strategy such as India and Nigeria, have seen significant increases in enrollments of non-EU international students.

For example, the University of Hertfordshire has reported a remarkable surge in international student numbers, constituting over 45% of its total student intake.

Notable increases include a 73% rise from India, 192% from Nigeria, and nearly 152% from Pakistan. Despite this growth, the university may face financial challenges in the coming years due to the overall decline in international student numbers.

Similarly, Robert Gordon University has introduced a voluntary severance scheme in response to staff redundancy caused by financial difficulties stemming from a notable decline in international student enrollments.

Post-Brexit changes in UK immigration policies have contributed to this decline. RGU has experienced significant expansion in recent years, particularly with international students from Nigeria and India. The university has actively fostered links with Nigeria, boasting a substantial Nigerian student population on campus and among its alumni, with various scholarships and funding opportunities available for Nigerian students.

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