Rise in Arab applications to UK universities

After the US, the UK is the next most sought-after destination for students from the Middle East, who make up around 6 percent of all international students in British universities. (Courtesy Ucas Facebook)
Updated 06 February 2018
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Rise in Arab applications to UK universities

LONDON: The number of foreign students applying to British universities has hit an all-time high, with some of the biggest increases coming from the Arab world, according to figures released by Ucas, the body that processes applications to UK universities.
After several years of declining numbers, applications from Saudi Arabia increased this year by 10 percent to 640 applicants.
The number of international students wanting to continue their education in Britain has surpassed 100,000 for the first time in 2018, a rise of more than 8 percent from last year.
Applications from the UAE numbered 430 in 2009, 1,550 in 2017 and 1,800 this year, up 16 percent in a year. The upward trend is repeated in almost every Arab country, from Morocco to the Gulf states.
Applications from Jordan are up 16 percent from 2017, and up 7 percent each from Oman and Kuwait. Applications from Lebanon and Morocco have surged by 25 percent each.
Only Bahrain and Egypt submitted fewer applications in 2018, from 310 to 300 and from 610 to 570, respectively.
After the US, the UK is the next most sought-after destination for students from the Middle East, who make up around 6 percent of all international students in British universities.
The biggest increases in international applications were from India (36 percent), Brazil (35 percent), Turkey (39 percent) and Mexico (52 percent).
And far from being put off by Brexit, more students from EU countries applied to British universities in 2018 than last year.
“The weaker pound makes the UK a cost-effective place to study … and the UK’s universities are highly popular with international students because of the quality of teaching and experience they offer,” said Helen Thorne, director of external relations at Ucas.
But sources say there are other factors at play — notably, a perception that under President Donald Trump the US has become more xenophobic and Islamophobic, evidenced by the travel ban against seven Muslim-majority countries, and his pledge to build a wall to halt immigration from neighboring Mexico and other Latin American countries.
The single biggest increase in the number of foreign students applying to British universities this year is from Mexico.
There are around 33,700 students from the Middle East enrolled in American universities and postgraduate schools, out of more than 690,000 foreign students.


Irish PM urges voters to see through last minute abortion referendum ‘tactics’

Updated 22 May 2018
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Irish PM urges voters to see through last minute abortion referendum ‘tactics’

  • Leo Varadkar: “What I see now in the final days of this campaign is a tactic by the ‘No’ campaign to try and make out that there is some sort of alternative amendment that we could put into our constitution.”
  • ‘No’ campaigners, which include more than half of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party, say the government’s proposals go too far.

DUBLIN: Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar accused campaigners opposing a referendum on liberalising Ireland’s abortion regime of trying to dupe voters into thinking the government could still change the laws even if they voted ‘No’.
Voters will be asked on Friday if they wish to repeal a constitutional amendment inserted following a 1983 referendum that enshrined the equal right to life of the mother and her unborn child, and to enable parliament to set the laws.
Some politicians appealing for a ‘No’ vote have suggested in recent days that if the referendum fails, the constitution could instead be amended again to allow for abortions in cases such as rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality.
A complete ban was lifted in Ireland five years ago for cases where the mother’s life is in danger.
“What I see now in the final days of this campaign is a tactic by the ‘No’ campaign to try and make out that there is some sort of alternative amendment that we could put into our constitution,” Varadkar, who is campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote, told parliament.
“I would ask those people 30 years after that amendment was put into our constitution, why has nobody put forward an alternative that would deal with all these hard cases? Why only three days from the vote are people only suddenly raising that?“
“It’s not a realistic alternative. It is just a tactic and I believe the Irish people will see through that.”
While not on the ballot paper, much of the campaign has focused on the legislation Varadkar intends to bring forward if the referendum is carried, which calls for terminations with no restrictions to be allowed up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.
That was in line with recommendations made by an all-party parliamentary committee, which came to a more liberal position than some had anticipated after concluding that legislating for termination for reasons of rape and incest was too complex.
The leaders of Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein, the two largest opposition parties, backed Varadkar in saying amending the constitution for such cases was impossible.
However ‘No’ campaigners, which include more than half of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party, say the government’s proposals go too far.
“The government has used difficult, tragic cases to push through extreme abortion on demand. This is why people are increasingly voting “NO” to abortion this Friday,” Clare McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the LoveBoth group said in a statement.
Opinion polls have put those who favor liberalising one of the world’s most restrictive regimes in a clear lead and while there has been some tightening in the margin, two surveys on Sunday showed the ‘Yes’ side pulling further ahead.