#WeAreInternational welcomes government review into the impact of international students

By August 24, 2017 No Comments

The #WeAreInternational campaign has responded to today’s (Thursday 24 August 2017) announcement that the government is launching a review into the impact of international students on the society and economy in the UK.

The government will commission an in-depth analysis of the societal and economic benefits of international students, to be carried out by the government’s Migration Advisory Committee, including the impact of tuition fees and other spending by foreign students on the national, regional and local economies.

The Home Office has also today revealed that new border checks introduced last year found 97 percent of international students left the UK after finishing their studies.

The #WeAreInternational campaign, which is supported by hundreds of universities, businesses and organisations globally, celebrates the rich contribution international students bring to the UK and is urging the government to support them in word and deed.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield and co-founder of #WeAreInternational, said: “These figures reiterate what our campaign has long emphasised  –  international students are not immigrants to be discouraged but, in the vast majority of cases, temporary visitors to our country making an investment in their future and ours.

“The myth that many international students overstay their visas after they graduate, and the negative narrative around immigration, risk us going backwards – and it is our duty to challenge it. Those few graduates who do stay on make a huge contribution in areas where their talents are crucial to us.”

He added: “Universities are a place of hope and excellence precisely because we are international. We need to see international students for what they are – a precious part of our universities and our society. People who contribute knowledge and skills, who train in our hospitals and give generously to charities in cities across the UK. People who are vital to our businesses and economy as well as being our students, our colleagues and our friends.

“If the UK is to have a positive future it must be open to the world, and one of the most positive ways we can achieve this is through education. If we welcome international students as the wonderful asset they are to our universities and communities we will all reap the benefits. Government policy should properly reflect this and any targets to reduce numbers of immigrants which include international students should be dropped.”

The #WeAreInternational campaign, which was founded by the University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union in 2013, is supported by more than 160 universities and organisations, including Universities UK and the National Union of Students.

Yinbo Yu, NUS International Students’ Officer, welcomed the review but said the government must listen to the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations when it reports back next September.

“For years we have been highlighting the positive impact that international students bring to the UK, not only economically but culturally as well,” he added.

“While we welcome the investigation by the Migration Advisory Committee, the findings must be taken on board and put an end to the scapegoating of oversea students. International students must be removed from the net migration figures. “

The business sector, including the CBI, the government-wide GREAT campaign, the British Council and CBI, have also backed the campaign with representatives attending a Parliamentary reception in July.

Richard Wright, of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, has led the voice of local firms in making clear just what international students mean to the city economically.

Speaking about the new exit check figures, he said: “These figures expose the myth that many international students stay on after their studies and increase the immigration numbers. The fact is that very few do and in those cases they bring specific skills to our economy. They are invaluable ambassadors for our country.

“What international students do is bring real wealth into this country and positively affect the trade balance. They are a critical contributor to the income of both our universities and this city.

“It’s now time to get past all this misinformation that had gone on for far too long and both welcome them with open arms and make it easy for them to come here. If we don’t somebody else will.”