The plans in the Conservative Party’s manifesto to cut overseas student numbers smack of Theresa May cutting her nose off to spite her face (“Conservative manifesto: plan to cut overseas student numbers has no economic or political value”, Opinion, 25 May). If the government is going to go down this ill-considered path, then our universities must have clarity on how the new immigration regime will be enacted as soon as possible.
In an ideal world, the government would engage with the sector on a national strategy to expand international student numbers, as our competitors in Australia and Canada have done. There is no reason why universities could not help to build trust by proposing a form of self-regulation. If they were to assume responsibility for ensuring that students leave at the end of their studies, further heavy-handed visa restrictions might be prevented. In addition, the sector needs to better demonstrate the ways in which international students benefit May’s mainstream Britain, which are innumerable.
International students are vital to the sector, and for our universities to thrive they must be able to fulfil their global ambitions and build on the huge contribution international students and staff already make to the UK.
Managing director, HE – UK and Europe