In a rare bipartisan move, seven mayors from both the Conservative and Labour party in the UK is calling for a more welcoming approach to international students by the government.
In a letter written to Financial Times, they urge for government policies to be amended following the slowdown in the number of international students enrolling in UK institutions despite being one of the top study destinations globally
“As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it is important that any future immigration system acknowledges the vital contribution international students make to regional jobs and growth,” said four Conservative mayors — Andy Street of the West Midlands, Ben Houchen of the Tees Valley, James Palmer of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and Tim Bowles of the West of England — as well as three Labour ones: Sadiq Khan of London, Andy Burnham of Greater Manchester and Steve Rotheram of Liverpool.
“This includes projecting a more open and welcoming message for international students.”
The letter comes in the wake of the report by the Higher Education Policy Institute’s report which found that international students contributed GBP22.6 billion of benefits to the economy.
“This helps support local businesses and provides a boost for tourism,” the mayors wrote. Their cities are among the biggest beneficiaries to the economic contribution of international students such as London, Manchester and Liverpool – GBP8 billion of the GBP20.3 billion of net benefits are generated in their areas.
— Andy Street (@andy4wm) January 18, 2018
There were only 442,755 international students for the 2016-17 academic year compared to the year before, representing only a growth of just under one percent. The data published by the Higher Education Statistics Authority last week had found a slowdown in the number of students coming from India, Nigeria and other non-EU countries.
The mayors had also written to the Migration Advisory Committee, the independent agency which advises the government on migration issues.
Earlier this month, The Guardian reported that a number of high-profile Conservative MPs, including a string of select committee chairs have joined the clamour of voices calling on UK Prime Minister to drop international students from the UK government’s immigration targets.