27 March 2012

International students good for Britain and for business

Responding to a National Audit Office (NAO) report on the UK Border Agency’s introduction of point-based study routes published today, the university think-tank million+ has said that the report should not be used to deflect attention away from the problems being created by Home Office policies to restrict international student visas. The NAO is critical of UKBA’s introduction of the new schemes and estimates that some 40,000 – 50,000 people may have entered the UK to work rather than study although it is not clear how many are actually in the UK illegally. The report concludes that the costs to colleges and universities of the new points-based and sponsorship schemes have been under-estimated and could be as much as £40m.

Commenting on the NAO report, Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of the university think-tank million+, said: “International students are not economic migrants and they do not contribute to net migration into the UK since the overwhelming majority return home. The NAO is correct in identifying the significant problems and costs for colleges and universities arising from changes introduced, often at short notice by the Home Office and UKBA. The proposal that UKBA should work collaboratively with sponsors and take a risk-based approach is welcome.

“Any shortcomings of UKBA should not be used to deflect attention from the fundamental problems being created by Home Office restrictions on international students and especially the post-study work route. These restrictions are opposed by universities and by business including multi-national companies like Nissan as well as by the Department of Health and the Department responsible for Business and Innovation. The Government as a whole needs to recognise that international students are good for Britain and good for business.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  1. million+ is a leading university think-tank, working to solve the complex problems in higher education www.millionplus.ac.uk. For more information please contact Victoria Mills on 0207 717 1659 or 07900 277819.
  2. The National Audit Office Report can be found here.