I welcome the early day motion put forward by cross-party MPs to remove international students from the UK’s net migration target (www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, 28 January) – it’s heartening to see it receive significant ministerial backing. International students should not be viewed as migrants; they are “education tourists” who are valuable to UK higher education and the economy, and are a major contributor to the UK’s soft power.
I know from conversations that I have had with members of the local community in Brighton that without international students, businesses and employment would suffer. Nearly 2,000 international students come to study with us in Brighton each year, and as a consequence we are the second largest private sector employer in the area – second only to American Express. International students should be welcomed and encouraged.
Home secretary Theresa May’s recent scaremongering projections about a future influx of international students; restrictions on visa applications for foreign graduates; a constantly changing Tier 4 system; and plans to march students out of the country upon graduation all damage the UK’s international higher education reputation.
The politicising of international students has overshadowed the UK’s higher education excellence. It is time that ministers acknowledge the positive impact that overseas students have.
Managing director, higher education UK and Europe Study Group