Professor Andrew Hamilton, vice-chancellor at the University of Oxford, recently lamented politicians as he argued that UK politics is sidelining the real issues behind higher education. Fundamentally, Hamilton was arguing for the allowance of more foreign students to be able to study at universities across the UK as he believes that the government's decision to have a "hostile" system of entry for foreign students will be detrimental for our institutions. Already, numbers from China and India are predicted to lower, losing out to international competition, and so Hamilton insists that the government do as much as possible to encourage foreign applications, not to dissuade.
Figures reveal that foreign students, outside of the EU, contribute £7bn annually to the UK's economy and yet numbers appear to be drastically falling from 174,225 in 2010/11 to 171,910 two years later. He sates: "The excellence of UK higher education is, in crude material terms, an attractive commodity in the world market. Why, at a time of continued economic constraint, are we limiting one of our most effective generators of overseas revenue?" Investment into higher education is below the international average and nearing the bottom within Europe, with just 0.9% of the UK gross domestic product being spent on it. Further to that, expenditure on research is at just 1.72% of GDP, which is "equally dismaying" Hamilton says, particularly in comparison with the EU average of 2.06% and 2.79% in the US. He suggests that politics and political "point-scoring" is deterring important decisions and announced to fellow academics that he had "limited expectation" that effective reforms would be put in place for UK universities in the run up to elections.