Response to international students and UK immigration debate

27 August 2014

On Monday 25 August 2014,  a new report, “International students and the UK immigration debate”, was published jointly by Universities UK and the think tank British Future. Based on nationally representative polling conducted by ICM and workshops, it reveals that 59% of the UK public thinks that the government should not reduce international student numbers, even if that limits the government’s ability to cut immigration numbers overall; only 22% take the opposing view. Other findings include that 60% of people think that international students bring money into their local economy, and 75% think that international students should be allowed to stay and work in Britain after graduating from British universities, using their skills for the benefit of our economy, for at least a period of time.

The British Council, having worked in international education for eighty years, believes that international students make a tremendous academic, cultural and economic contribution to the UK. China is the UK’s biggest source of overseas student recruitment, and our Director of Education Marketing in China, Jazreel Goh, gives her reaction to the report and what people might make of it in China:

“This report will be very well-received in China.  The findings from this report will dispel some of the myths that the UK no longer welcome international students.   It also confirms that the UK is positive about and acknowledges the presence and contributions of international students.   Against a background of competitor countries’ favourable immigration policies for students,  and their increased marketing investments in China,  the report is definitely a confidence booster for the UK.  We know that UK qualifications are highly valued by Chinese students and I strongly hope that policy recommendations from the report are taken up to ensure the UK’s long-term competitive position in China.”