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A strong case for international students

Sheffield University students tell Parliament why international students are vital to the UK as Immigration Bill returns to Commons

Posted by Hannah Oakman | February 03, 2014 | International

The University of Sheffield's Students' Union President and International Officer recently visited Parliament, making a strong case for international students as the controversial Immigration Bill returns to the House of Commons.

Ally Buckle and Alex Kohert made their case to peers including Lord Taverne, Baroness Barker, Lord Stevenson, Lord Storey and Baroness Smith.

The meetings follow earlier discussions the students have had with Baroness Hamwee and Lord Bradshaw, as well as Members of Parliament the Right Hon David Hanson, Paul Blomfield and Nick Clegg.

Sheffield Students' Union is leading a shared campaign with the University of Sheffield to demonstrate the huge economic, cultural and educational value of international students to UK universities and the wider economy.

A joint statement on the proposed Bill from the University of Sheffield and the Students' Union signed by Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett and Student President Ally Buckle says: “Openness to talented young people from around the world is at the heart of the UK’s world-leading universities. It is a powerful source of international collaboration and understanding as generations of leaders in every sphere of life have been given the opportunity to learn from and alongside the most able people from every continent.

“Our deep concern is that the UK’s reputation as a welcoming host for international students is being damaged by negative messages associated with concerns about immigration more widely. This is both unjust and unhelpful. International students as a body are an asset to this country, and their economic benefit dramatically outweighs any costs. In Sheffield, like many other cities across the UK, international students form a bedrock of economic stability for local businesses and organisations alongside their British colleagues.”

The statement goes on to raise concerns about the healthcare levy and mandatory visa checks by landlords of anyone who appears to be ‘foreign’.

The Union and University also endorsed briefing material which has been developed by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), which reinforces many of the same issues.

As part of the wide case for international students, the University commissioned an independent report into the net economic impact of international students in Sheffield, revealing that international students make up 10% of all inward investment into the city.

The University has also been working closely with the Home Office, British Council, Universities UK, UKCISA and others to develop video material for use in India and china which helps challenge damaging stereotypes about studying in the UK.  These materials are now being used by 60 universities across the UK, and are also supported by the National Union of Students, CBI and UK India Business Council.

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