Today’s ONS Migration Statistics Quarterly Report reveals a significant surge in net migration to the UK, at 260,000 for the year ending June 2014. It is the latest indication that the Government will not meet the Conservatives’ target of bringing net immigration down to the ‘tens of thousands’ by the end of this parliament. Exporting Education UK (ExEd), a broad-based group of UK-based companies and organisations involved in education as an export (primarily through educating international students in the UK and overseas), has previously spoken out against the use of an arbitrary net migration target and its distorting effect on Government policy towards international students.
The UK education export market is currently worth around £18 billion per year to the UK economy, with potential for year on year growth. Teaching international students also boosts the UK’s soft power abroad and gives British students a unique opportunity to interact with and understand those from different cultures. A consistently positive message from government is essential in helping the UK build its share of this lucrative market, which would bring both short and long term benefits to the country. ExEd holds that such a positive message is inconsistent with the existence of a net migration target which includes international students.
Graham Able, Chair of ExEd, said: ‘This latest ONS report shows that it is time for the Prime Minister to retire this unhelpful and undeliverable target. We are pleased see that all but one of the main political parties (including UKIP) have now committed to removing international students from net migration figures, and I hope that the Conservatives will follow suit after next year’s election. But more action is needed if the UK is to build its share of the international education market; aside from the removal of international students from net migration figures, ExEd also calls for changes in legislation to allow all students in higher education to undertake paid work during their courses and to give non-EU degree students the right to work for two years post-graduation. To help make us more attractive relative to rival study destinations such as the USA, Australia and Canada, a more welcoming student visa regime is absolutely necessary – the UK should be doing all it can to encourage the most promising students of the world to study here.”
Notes to editors:
About Exporting Education
Exporting Education is a broad-based group of UK-based companies and organisations involved in education as an export (either educating foreign students in the UK or abroad) who have come together to promote the value of the sector to the UK and its contribution to the UK’s long term competitiveness in the global economy. The group is known as ExEd for short. The group currently has over 20 members, who span the full range of education from Pre-preps, Prep schools, High Schools, Sixth Form Colleges, FE & HE colleges, Professional Colleges and Education Publishers, all of whom are exemplars of UK education.