Responding to yesterday’s announcement by the Government of changes to the immigration rules for international students, Graham Able, Chair of Exporting Education UK (ExEd), said:
“Once again the Home Office has announced new rules for international students without proper consultation or apparent concern for the devastating impact they will have on colleges and universities across the UK. These rules will place impossible obstacles in the path of international students hoping to progress through sixth form and FE into UK higher education, and will drive them by their thousands into the open arms of our global competitors.
“With no evidence at all of the need for these changes, they will put at risk the £18 billion that the UK earns each year from education exports. They also fly in the face of the Government’s efforts to expand adult educational provision to meet the needs of a growing student population. Colleges large and small rely on international students to make a significant contribution in these difficult economic times. Without them many courses would be forced to close, robbing British students of the chance to study the subject they want at an institution near their home.
“Polling has shown that the British public welcomes international students, values their positive contribution and thinks it only fair that they have the opportunity to work here for a time after they graduate. The consistent message from employers is that they need this steady supply of skilled workers, especially in the STEM industries. The country as a whole benefits from the energy of these talented young people, their new ideas and their international know-how. When they leave the UK they become our greatest ambassadors, extending our influence and soft power across the world better than any diplomatic mission, while sending new business opportunities our way.
“The UK education sector is complex, interconnected and sensitive to change. Due to the failure of the Home Office to consult with those who understand it best, these proposals are ill conceived and have not been fully thought through. If implemented in their current form, they will fatally undermine the UK’s attractiveness as a destination for international study. The damage to our sector and our standing in the world could take more than a decade to undo. We urge the Government to reconsider this policy and to work with the sector on a balanced approach to achieving its aims.”
About Exporting Education UK
Exporting Education UK 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. ExEd’s secretariat is provided by Study UK.
The value of UK educational exports
The UK education export market is currently worth around £18 billion per year to the UK economy, with potential for year on year growth (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/international-education-strategy). 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.