Alliance university chancellors join call urging prime minister to review approach to international students

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Alliance university Chancellors have joined the call to the prime minister urging his government to support the UK’s universities in their efforts to recruit genuine international students.

Libby Hackett, director of University Alliance, said:

“We give our strong and unequivocal support to this letter and the constructive solution it offers to the Prime Minister. This is a serious issue, with a single policy decision that could have major implications for the future health of our world-leading university sector and the UK economy. The relatively simple solution of taking legitimate international university students outside the immigration cap is a sensible step that would bring the UK inline with many of its competitor countries.

“With 11% more international students than the sector average, Alliance universities understand the significant benefits that an international student population brings to the learning experience of all our students. With international competitors ready to benefit from our mistakes and a global brand to protect, we cannot afford to get this wrong.”

Signatories to the letter from Alliance institutions include director of Liberty, Ms Shami Chakrabarti, Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University; Dr Sheila Hancock OBE, Chancellor of University of Portsmouth; and Professor Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, Chancellor of University of Huddersfield.

They are backing calls for international university students to be removed from net migration statistics for policy purposes, bringing the UK into line with our major competitors. They are urging the government to make a clear distinction between temporary and permanent migration in order to help the UK maintain its position as a world-leader in international higher education and send out the message that the UK welcomes, and values, genuine international students.

The UK continues to have one of the strongest higher education systems in the world and universities can play a considerable part in driving the UK’s economic growth. Countries such as the US and Australia have recognised the potential in this growth area and are taking active steps to attract international students, broadcasting very different messages to the world than the UK.

The letter states: “In an age of increasing global mobility, the number of individuals considering a university education abroad is growing rapidly. In this market for talent – and export income – the UK performs exceptionally well, with 9.9% of the total market share in 2009, and export earnings of £7.9 billion. International students also play an important role in towns and cities up and down the country, and contribute significantly to local economies. There is a clear opportunity to build on this success, with forecasts suggesting that export earnings from this activity could more than double by 2025.”


1. The full letter and list of signatories can be found on the Universities UK website here.

2. Alliance university Chancellors who have signed the letter are:

Miss Lucy Armstrong
Acting Chair of the Board of Governors
Northumbria University

Mr Rod Bennion
Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Board
Plymouth University

Sir Ian Carruthers OBE
University of the West of England, Bristol

Ms Shami Chakrabarti
Oxford Brookes University

Mrs Jo Connell OBE DL
Chair of the Board of Governors
University of Hertfordshire

Dr Sheila Hancock OBE
University of Portsmouth

Mr Paul Jagger MBE
Chair of Council
University of Bradford

Dr Irene Khan
University of Salford

Lord Puttnam of Queensgate CBE
The Open University

Professor Sir Patrick Stewart OBE
University of Huddersfield

Mrs Sue Sutherland OBE
Chair of the University Board
Bournemouth University

Ms Dianne Thompson CBE
Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Barbara Wilding OBE QPM
Chair of the Board of Governors
Cardiff Metropolitan University

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