An increase in international students has been viewed by many as controversial, with a possible concern being that an increase in numbers would affect opportunities for British students.
The increase in international students could lead to less university places and more competition, adding to already existing concerns about access after the introduction of higher fees in 2012.
In a statement, the University of Sussex assured that “increasing the number of international students will not affect opportunities or increase competition for Home and EU students.”
The university stated that the increase is part of the University of Sussex’s ‘Strategic Plan’, “an explicit plan for growth in student numbers, increasing research income and further enhancing the quality of student experience”. The plan has various targets to meet for 2015-16.
However it was explained that due to a “strict cap set by Government on the number of UK and other EU students that UK universities can take”, the capped number of home, UK and EU students cannot be exceeded.
Meanwhile there is “no cap on the number of non-EU students allowed since their study here is not subsidised using public funds”.
International student numbers have already increased to 2,000, a growth of 25 percent in just one year, since the plan was put in place.
As well as increasing international student numbers “Sussex is investing £100m in its campus to provide enhanced teaching space, improve support facilities and add extra accommodation on campus”.
The Argus has suggested the university is attempting “to attract more of those paying higher fees”.
There is a financial incentive from gaining more income from international students’ higher fees, “a boost to the economy”, which relates to worry over international students being favoured.
However the university states “an important part of the student experience at Sussex is the international mix of students on campus, and the opportunity for UK students to spend part of their degree studying abroad.”
Positive benefits from the growth of international students include a more diverse student population to accompany the investment.
“Having a vibrant and attractive campus and bringing additional students to Sussex means we can offer a better student experience overall”, the university said.
According to the university, students and staff “come from more than 100 different nations”.
Having international students is one important part of the university, which has been an “international institution […] since its foundation in 1961”.
Sussex graduates play leading roles across the world “in politics, business, the arts and community organisations”.
The University of Sussex Students’ Union commented on the increase: “International students are an important part of a diverse and multicultural university community.
We continue to challenge any circumstances in which any students are being treated as cash cows and we have actively opposed the government’s threat to limit international student rights and numbers this year.”