As global headlines are dominated by the effects of changing immigration policies in the UK and the US, there is one consequence that has gone largely unnoticed: a significant decline in international student numbers. Latest statistics show that top universities have seen international enrollment figures drop significantly in response to new restrictions on student visas in the US, uncertainty over Brexit and the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and tuition hikes in both countries.
Seeking to avoid these pitfalls, high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) are pursuing solutions that allow their children to fulfil their academic aspirations without becoming entangled in risky or unpredictable visa application processes. One increasingly popular approach is acquiring alternative residence or citizenship rights that ensures access to some of the best schools and universities in the world.
Dr. Juerg Steffen, CEO of investment migration firm Henley & Partners, says education is a fundamental priority for most clients. “For many wealthy investors, citizenship or residence rights in a country with high educational standards are the best gift they can give their children. It is difficult to overstate the value that our clients place on ensuring their children receive a top-class international education — they know that it is key to academic and professional success in a globalized world, where the competition is tougher than ever.”
The UK Investor Immigration Program is ideal for investors seeking to take advantage of the UK’s excellent primary, secondary, and tertiary education services. As noted by the Knight Frank Global Wealth Report, although Australia, Canada, Switzerland, the US, and a number of other countries all attract students from overseas, the UK’s private boarding schools are still seen as the gold standard by many. At the tertiary level, the Oxford and Cambridge universities are currently ranked number one and two in the world by Times Higher Education, which provides the definitive list of the world’s best universities.
Of the universities in mainland Europe, revered institutions such as Humboldt University of Berlin, Sorbonne University in Paris, and the University of Amsterdam continue to draw wealthy international students, attracted by both the peerless quality of education on offer and the experience of student life in a European capital. For investors wanting to give their children access to these kinds of opportunities, a key advantage of European universities is that fees for EU citizens are much lower than they are for non-EU citizens — up to 50% or more. For an investment of between EUR 1 million and EUR 2.15 million, Malta and Cyprus offer the most popular citizenship-by-investment programs in the EU at present.
Across the Atlantic, the US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is an attractive option for those who have their sights set on an American education. The program offers permanent residence in exchange for an investment of USD 500,000 to USD 1 million in a new commercial enterprise that boosts job creation. The Australia Residence-by-Investment Program is another potential avenue to pursue. Overall, the country is renowned for its education system — one of many reasons it remains the top destination of choice for HNWIs looking to resettle.
Dr. Steffen comments, “There are many reasons for acquiring alternative citizenship or residence, but ultimately, it comes down to long-term stability and security – a classic investment hedge against potential volatility. The dramatically expanded education options that open up by having alternative citizenship or residence in a desirable location is often a decisive factor for families when they are considering making this kind of investment.”