UK must remain open to world's best students

27 July 2011

Commenting on the Home Affairs Select Committee’s follow-up student visa report, Russell Group Director General Dr Wendy Piatt said:

“The Home Affairs Select Committee is right to highlight the significant economic benefits international students bring, the potential costs if visa policies are not carefully implemented and the importance of evidence-based policy-making.

“The UK must continue to attract the very best students and staff from around the world if we are to maintain our place as a global leader in higher education. There is a fierce global market for the best academic talent, and our universities’ track record of attracting international staff and students has made a very important contribution to the UK’s considerable intellectual and economic success.

“Higher education is one of our most successful export industries. International students are indispensable for a thriving society, culture and economy. 

“Through their tuition fees and living expenditure alone, international students in the UK are worth at the very least £5.8 billion each year. We urge the Government to ensure that our ability to attract the best students is not harmed through the implementation of the new visa system while cracking down on any abuses of UK immigration rules.”

Notes to editors 

  1. The report Global Value by the British Council estimated that in 2002-03 higher education attracted £2.1 billion of investment into the UK in the form of tuition fees paid by non-UK students and that students also accounted for £2.6 billion in other spending whilst in this country.  Given that the total population of non-UK students in the UK increased by 23 percent between 2002-03 and 2008-09 (from 300,055 to 368,970), it is likely that tuition fees and living expenditure of all non-UK HE students now account for a minimum of £5.8 billion investment in the UK.

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