Global STEM students

April 24, 2014

I am delighted that the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has called on the government to make substantial changes to UK migration policy to reverse the declining trend in international student numbers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Concerns have been voiced to me by members of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) for some time about the impact of the government’s migration policy on the vibrancy of the UK science and engineering sector. The Lords committee reviewed the evidence relating to international STEM students and concluded that there has been a damaging decline of 10 per cent in international applications in just two years.

The Lords report highlights the potential for UK migration policy to hinder one of our most successful export markets, higher education. I fully support the Lords’ recommendations, which include treating student numbers separately for immigration policymaking purposes, and reinstating the former post-study work visa scheme.

The flow of talented people and ideas is vital to maintaining the UK’s world-class science base. Skilled migration is essential both for research in academia and in companies that look to locate in the UK to access our great innovation and research capacity.

At a time when the UK is looking to increase our STEM skilled workforce, we cannot afford to be deterring international talent. The government’s migration policy should champion the cause of making the UK the best place in the world to do science, and not limit it. Adopting the Lords’ recommendations would be an excellent start.

Sarah Main
Director
Campaign for Science and Engineering

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