Edinburgh University has recently announced that over the next few years it will be increasing the number of places for foreign students in a bid to "attract the best students from around the world." The university is looking to recruit at least 2,000 extra foreign students, which would make them the second largest recruiter of international students in the country, just behind the London School of Economics.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), in the year 2012/13 9,145 students at Edinburgh were foreign with 6,000 of them coming from beyond the EU. The decision to increase these numbers stems from statistics printed from Universities UK indicating that due to government cuts, institutions are becoming heavily reliant on the fees that foreign students pay. According to reports, their fees accounted for 12% of universities' total income of £29.1bn in 2012/13, which has increased from less than 10% in 2008.
Mike Boxall, who is a higher education expert from PA Consulting has stated that international students are "very attractive to universities" as institutions can charge whatever they like. Several educational experts and even students are arguing that foreign students are being utilized as "cash cows" as a means to generate income. Figures for international students at Edinburgh for example, show that they are paying anything from £15,850 to £29,000 a year for tuition. However, Edinburgh defends its decision assuring that there will be not be a reduction in the number of places available to those from the rest of the UK. A spokesman from the university has said: "Looking forward, we do not intend to reduce the numbers of our Scottish-domiciled or [rest of the UK] domiciled students. As the university continues to grow, we will seek to offer opportunities to more students from outside the UK, many of whom will be supported by our generous bursaries programme."