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New Visa Rules for International Students in the UK from January 2024

Bill Rammell      May 25, 2023

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The United Kingdom has long been a favoured destination for international students seeking a high-quality education and a culturally rich experience. Despite the recent introduction of new visa rules that restrict international master's students from bringing dependents to the UK starting January 2024, the appeal of studying in the UK remains strong. Highlights of this latest development are -

  • From January 2024, international students in taught master’s programs—including business master’s and MBA degrees—will no longer be allowed to bring family members as dependents to the UK.
  • The United Kingdom will now only allow international students who are on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programmes such as a PhD to bring in their family members, including children and elderly parents, as their dependants.
  • There have been no changes to the current graduate visa system which allows degree graduates to stay and work in the UK after finishing their programs.

In this article, we will explore the various reasons why the UK continues to be a highly desirable destination for international students, supported by insights from Bill Rammell, former UK Higher Education Minister and ex-UK University Vice-Chancellor. From its global popularity and cultural diversity to shorter degree durations, financial assistance, work opportunities, and post-study work visas, the UK offers a wealth of advantages that make it an excellent choice for ambitious students worldwide.


  1. Global Popularity and Second Most Popular Destination: According to Bill Rammell, the UK is the second most popular destination for overseas students. This popularity reflects the country's longstanding reputation for delivering high-quality education and academic excellence. With numerous world-renowned universities and rich educational heritage, the UK attracts a diverse and talented student body, creating a vibrant and intellectually stimulating environment.
  2. Cultural Diversity and Learning Beyond Academics: One of the significant benefits of studying in the UK is its multicultural atmosphere. As Rammell emphasizes, UK university campuses are alive with different cultures, enabling students to interact and learn from peers from around the world. This exposure to diverse perspectives fosters a broader understanding of global issues, enhances cross-cultural communication skills, and cultivates lifelong friendships.
  3. Shorter Degree Durations and Cost Savings: UK degrees and master's courses are generally shorter in duration compared to international counterparts. As Rammell points out, this translates to lower tuition fees and living costs, saving students both time and money. Undergraduate degrees typically take three years instead of the traditional four, while master's courses can be completed in one year instead of two. This accelerated timeline enables students to enter the job market sooner, gaining a competitive edge and minimizing financial burdens.
  4. Financial Assistance: International students studying in the UK have access to various financial aid options. Scholarships, grants, and bursaries are available to help alleviate the financial burden of tuition fees and living expenses. These opportunities contribute to making studying in the UK more affordable and accessible, ensuring that talented students can pursue their educational aspirations without undue financial stress.
  5. Work Opportunities: International students studying in the UK are permitted to work part-time, up to 20 hours per week. This flexibility allows students to earn money, gain work experience, and enhance their employability while balancing their academic commitments. Part-time jobs or internships provide valuable insights into the local work culture and contribute to building a professional network.
  6. Post-Study Work Visa Regime: One of the most enticing aspects of studying in the UK is the post-study work visa regime. Upon graduation, international students are eligible for the UK's two-year post-study work visa. This opportunity allows graduates to seek well-paid employment and gain valuable work experience in their chosen fields. The post-study work visa regime enhances career prospects and adds significant value to a UK education.


Despite the changes to visa regulations for master's students, it's important to note that dependents of master's students can still join them in the UK if they commence their studies before September 2023. While the new visa regulations may require adjustments, they should not overshadow the countless advantages of pursuing a master's degree in the UK. The unparalleled quality of education, esteemed faculty members, and cutting-edge research facilities continue to attract students from around the globe. Moreover, the UK's reputation for academic excellence holds strong, ensuring that a degree obtained here is widely recognized and respected worldwide.

Beyond the academic realm, the UK offers an enriching multicultural experience that transcends borders. From bustling cosmopolitan cities to serene countryside landscapes, international students can immerse themselves in a diverse society that celebrates differences and fosters a global perspective. The United Kingdom's vibrant cultural scene, historic landmarks, and thriving industries provide an enriching backdrop for personal growth and professional development. So, if you are ready to embark on a transformative academic journey, don't let the changes discourage you. Start your application today and seize the opportunity to unlock a world-class education, expand your horizons, and lay the foundation for a successful future.

Bill Rammell
Bill Rammell

Former Minister of the State for Higher Ed - UK

Bill Rammell, a former British Labour MP and Minister from 1997-2010, joins Zoom Abroad with a strong background in government affairs. With eight years as a senior Minister at the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence, and four years as Minister of State for Higher Education, Bill brings extensive experience and success to the table. Additionally, he served as Vice Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire for eight years.

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