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Any policy change on international students would be a hammer blow to economy

UK government ministers are being warned that any U-turn on their commitments to grow international student numbers could result in billions of pounds in lost revenue, wreck their growth plans, and damage local economies in their own constituencies.

According to research from the Higher Education Policy Institute, in conjunction with Universities UK, international students make a net positive contribution of more than £25.9 billion to the UK’s economy, with every part of the UK financially better off – on average by £390 per person – because of international students.

Alongside the immeasurable social and cultural benefit they bring to our communities, international students and the financial contribution they bring are central to the government’s own strategy for economic growth, with the current strategy aiming to grow education exports to £35 billion by 2030. Earlier this year, the government was celebratory when it reached its own target of 600,000 international students earlier than planned.

Despite this, recent comments from the Home Secretary suggest a belief that there are too many international students and dependents in the UK, and even that this number should be limited.

By limiting the number of international students in the UK, every MP stands to lose the significant revenue that these students bring to their own constituencies, including:

  • £20.2 million for Suella Braverman’s constituency of Fareham
  • £16 million for Prime Minister Liz Truss’ constituency of South West Norfolk

Universities UK and Universities UK International are calling for the Home Secretary  to retract her comments on international students, and to reaffirm the centrality of international students and their dependents to their own plans for the economic future of the UK.

CEO of Universities UK, Vivienne Stern MBE said:

“The fact that so many international students chose to study in the UK is a real success story, and the UK benefits in many ways from hosting them. International students contribute to the UK’s global connections in trade, politics and in research, and they make an enormous economic contribution too.

“For a government focussed on growth, to try to reduce the appeal to international students would be bizarre, especially when you consider that they contribute nearly £26 billion to the UK economy – and that this is spread throughout all parts of the UK. It is even more bizarre when recent growth in international student numbers has been a direct result of pro-growth government policies and visa changes. We strongly urge the government not to take such a retrograde step.”

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