British Citizens Say Govt Should Tackle Illegal Immigration, Not International Students

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News International Studies Statistics by Erudera News May 22, 2024

People in London, the UK

British citizens believe restrictions on international students are the wrong priority of the government. Instead, the latter should focus on illegal immigration, a new poll says.

According to the poll conducted by Survation, a London-based polling and market research agency, only 1 percent of the public in the United Kingdom wants the government to focus on reducing the number of international students, Erudera.com reports.

At the same time. only 2 percent of people think that preventing students to stay and work in the UK after graduation would result in reducing immigration numbers.

The poll of more than 1,000 adults commissioned by the Russell Group universities found that most participants recognize the contribution of international students and those who stay to work on the graduate route visa.

“It’s clear that the British public recognise the value of international students to their local economy, to our society and to our global standing – and it’s therefore no surprise that they overwhelmingly want to see the numbers of international students increase or remain the same,” Russell Group CEO Tim Bradshaw said.

He said further restrictions on international students would undermine the country’s plans to grow its economy and discourage voters’ desires.

Findings show that 50 percent of respondents believe that more international students studying in the UK would help the country’s economy. Only 13 percent disagreed with the statement.

Another 43 percent of individuals said international students have a significant positive economic impact in the UK. Modelling by London Economics shows that international students contribute about £ 37 billion to the economy.

Among respondents, over half expressed concerns that reducing international student numbers would raise tuition fees for domestic students. 58 percent said universities should be able to use international students’ money for tuition to support the sector. Only 7 percent of respondents disagreed with this statement.

Last week, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said in a government-commissioned report that further restrictions on the Graduate route could lead to a drop in international students, job losses, and course closures. Consequently, the report said that such measures could affect the financial situation of universities.

The graduate route allows international students to stay and work for up to two years in the UK after graduation, or three years for PhD students.

As part of its efforts to control migration, the UK government has restricted international students, including prohibiting them from taking family with them unless they are on postgraduate research courses. It also said it would restrict the graduate visa route amid concerns that it was being abused.

In its report, MAC recommended retaining the graduate route for international students, saying it is unnecessary to be reconsidered after finding no abuse.

“Implementing additional restrictions or closing the route now could risk overcorrection,” Brian Bell, Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, said to the Home Secretary in a letter on May 14, 2024.

There were 679,970 international students in the UK during the 2021/22 academic year. Of these, a total of 120,140 were from the EU, and 559,825 were from non-EU countries. More recent data from the Centre for Migration Control (CMC) indicated a record 787,000 international students had studied at UK universities in 2022/23.

© Yulia Chinato | Unsplash

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