We’ve just finished knocking together a quick response to UK Border Agency Consultation The Student Immigration System.
Basically the UK Border Agency has been looking for ways to significantly reduce the number of non-EEA students and graduates in the UK in order to reach its overall objective of reducing immigration to the UK to the level of the 1990s.
The wisdom of cutting student numbers – 8 facts worth knowing
With ONS figures showing that the economy contracted by 5% in the last quarter of 2010, and job losses on the horizon for those in the public sector include those in the further and higher education sector (East Durham College has already announced 73 job losses and Cambridge University is inviting calls for voluntary redundancy- budgets for further and higher education have been cut by 25% and 40%) we argued that the Government might just wish to reconsider the wisdom of its strategy in the light of these 8 facts:
1. Education and training exports represent the second biggest contributor to the UK’s net balance of payments. They are, according to the Financial Times, worth £40 billion.
2. According to the independent Migration Advisory Committee, for every one pound students generate for universities, a further fifty pence is generated for other industries.
3. The independent Migration Advisory Committee found that non-EEA national students subsidise the educational system in the UK. In fact they account for 37% of total university fee income.
4. Research shows that students bring knowledge of different countries, languages and cultures which are beneficial to UK businesses that wish to develop new markets overseas.
5. Non-EEA national student graduates who remain in the UK contribute £1 billion per year to GDP.
6. Non-EEA national students who remain in the UK after graduation contribute at least £100 million per year in fiscal benefits.
7. The independent Migration Advisory Committee concluded following its recent examination of the Post Study Work route that there was no evidence that non-EEA nationals using the Post Study Work route displaced nationals in the labour market.
8. Research from the US has shown that for every 1% increase in the share of immigrant university graduates in the US population, patents per capita are increased by 6%. It is reasonable to assume similar trends to be prevalent in the UK.
We’ve also highlighted how some of the proposals e.g. further limiting the ability to work of students and their partners are inconsistent with our international obligations under the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and possibly Article 2 of Protocol 1 in conjunction with Article14 ECHR, and Article 10 ECHR.
Additionally we’ve expressed grave concerns about the application of more stringent administrative procedures for foreign students from so called ‘high risk countries.’ We’ve also touched upon the somewhat dodgy use of statistics to justify some of the proposals.