Top UK universities face funding challenges and a foreign student shortage

Some of the UK’s top institutions may lose their appeal as a result of financial cuts and more rules on international students, according to the annual QS 2025 university rankings released on Tuesday.

Four British universities remained in the top ten of over 1,000 universities ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), which also includes the Times and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Imperial College London, known for its science education, jumped from sixth to second place, dethroning the traditionally powerful “Oxbridge” combo, with Oxford and Cambridge ranked third and fifth, respectively.

More than half (52) of the UK’s universities were dropped from the ranking, which included 90 institutions.

This year’s results imply that British higher education has limited potential to continue succeeding in the face of funding shortages, a reduction in student applications, and restrictions on international student admission, according to QS chief Jessica Turner.

In recent months, the Conservative administration has proposed a number of steps to restrict regular migration, which it considers to be excessive.

These include preventing international students from bringing families and raising the minimum wage required for skilled worker visas.

Universities have criticized the restrictions, citing the large tuition paid by international students as a major source of revenue.

According to government figures, there were 30,000 fewer student visa applications in the first four months of the year than in the same period in 2023.

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