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University Alliance calls for overseas students to be removed from net migration figures

The UK’s restrictive policy is affecting our universities’ reputation as welcoming places to study and work. This is harming our economy as well as our universities.

In response to the release of the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) quarterly estimate which has seen net migration to Britain increasing by 68,000 in the past year to 243,000, University Alliance is urging the government to remove overseas students from the net migration target and reintroduce two year post-study work visas.

Professor Steve West, Chair of University Alliance, said:

“This is not the time for a knee-jerk reaction by the Government to cut down on overseas students in a misguided attempt to meet immigration targets.  The ONS figures actually show that immigration for study has remained stable. But the UK’s restrictive policy is affecting our universities’ reputation as welcoming places to study and work. This is harming our economy as well as our universities.

“Some Alliance universities have seen as much as a 50 per cent reduction in overseas students studying STEM over the past two years. We are also losing international students to other nations due to the UK’s restrictive policy on post-study work visas.

“We believe the solution is simple – remove international students from the net migration target and reintroduce the two year post-study work visas for all graduates from UK universities. This would enhance opportunities for qualified international graduates to stay in the UK to work, filling crucial skill gaps, and contribute to the economy, and then help build important global links when they return to their countries of origin.”

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