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UK makes international student entrepreneurs feel ‘unwelcome’

International students feel that the UK is not a good place to start a business, according to a Loughborough University study.

The research revealed that only 11 per cent of overseas students said they would recommend the UK as a country for business opportunities.

In addition, more than half of international students wished to leave the UK after graduation, with the vast majority intending to return to their home country.

The results, from a groundbreaking online survey of 585 overseas students from the UKs 165 Higher Education Institutions between October and December 2012, found that government rhetoric over visas is a major contributor to the perception that the UK is not a good place for overseas students to set up a business.

The findings were revealed in a study called Open for Business? Survey of International Student Perceptions of Post-Study Opportunities in the UK, undertaken by Loughborough University and initiated by Nottingham-based Paragon Law Ltd.

The research, led by Dr Adam Warren (Department of Geography), showed that international students continued to value their experience of studying in the UK and held UK universities in high regard.

Moreover, a significant proportion of respondents wish to remain in the UK for a short period following graduation to further enhance their skill set.

However, they felt constrained by recent changes to UK immigration policy, in particular by the closure of the Post Study Work visa.

This measure, combined with difficulties experienced in applying for visas, accessing support services and starting up businesses, gave international students the impression that they were unwelcome in this country.

The study highlighted three areas for further consideration by the government, policymakers, higher education and business communities:

1. To utilise the good reputation of UK higher education to promote work, study and entrepreneurial opportunities in the UK following graduation.

2. To develop, and actively promote, the entrepreneurial landscape of the UK.

3. To modify rhetoric on migration, whilst continuing to curb abuses to the existing system.

In conclusion, Dr Warren said: “Our research highlights much that is positive about the UK from the perspective of international students.

“However, it is important that recent changes to migration policy – combined with perceived animosity towards migrants from certain quarters - do not result in the loss of hardworking and enterprising individuals who have much to contribute to this country.”

The project team comprised: Dr Adam Warren, Dr Elizabeth Mavroudi and George Windsor, Loughborough University; Thalej Vasishta, CEO, Paragon Law Ltd.

The full report, and a two page briefing, can be accessed at:

Any enquires should be directed to Dr Adam Warren ( in the first instance.