Yesterday, I spoke in the final Commons debate on the Government’s Higher Education and Research Bill to repeat my calls for the Government to develop a positive strategy for international student recruitment.
International students enable growth, generate earnings and create jobs in towns and cities across the country like Sheffield. They account for almost £11billion of UK export earnings.
As I said in Parliament yesterday, a sensible Government would be looking at those facts and saying ‘how can we strengthen our appeal to international students?’ But instead the Government has actually undermined our ability to recruit international students.
Policies like including students in net migration figures, which the Government is trying to slash, and reducing opportunities for students to take up employment here once they graduate have seen international student numbers stagnate. These policies have been pursued despite evidence showing the public don’t see international students as migrants, with 75% of people want to see numbers stay the same or go up.
The Prime Minister has ignored calls to change her approach, including from those within her own Government. So whilst international student numbers in the UK are stagnating, our competitors are seizing the advantage, with Australia having seen a 35% increase in numbers in 2015 following an active campaign to recruit more at the expense of the UK.
You can read the speech I made yesterday in Parliament here.