Concern over international student policy

The University of Sheffield and Students’ Union urge MPs to support early day motion on international students

The University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union are urging MPs to support the new Early Day Motion (EDM) on international students which raises concerns about current government policies having a negative impact on UK universities and the economy.

University of Sheffield Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, and Students’ Union International Officer, Jose Diaz De Aguilar, are leading the call for MPs to back the motion in Parliament which was tabled by Paul Blomfield, Sheffield MP, along with cross party support.

The motion calls for the government to remove international students from net migration targets and highlights the concerning drop in the number of overseas students enrolling at UK universities.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett said: “We are deeply concerned that the UK should not alienate international students who are so crucial to our University, city and nation. Without our international students and staff, the UK would not have the tremendous record it does for education, science and engineering. Our international students are our colleagues and friends, and learning in a global university context is an experience which enriches all students and prepares them to work across national boundaries to address the great challenges of our age.”

“Even purely on grounds of enlightened self-interest, UK students make a crucial contribution to our country. Nationally the UK is a world-leader when it comes to international higher education and we now have an industry worth £7 billion a year to the UK economy. More than 136,000 British jobs can be attributed to the enrolment of non-EU international students.

“Yet despite such clear benefits and our proud traditions as a nation and region which welcomes and supports international students, official figures have shown that the UK higher education sector as a whole experienced two consecutive years of falling overseas entrants.”

He added: “The number of Indian students commencing courses in the UK almost halved in two years, and the number of international entrants to STEM courses, which supply UK businesses with important skills, fell by 10%.

The University of Sheffield has more than 6,000 talented international students from 116 countries across the world. Since 2013 the University has led the way in supporting international students with the pioneering #Weareinternational campaign which is now supported by more than 100 UK universities and colleges, the British Council and the Home Office.

International Officer, Jose Diaz De Aguilar, said: “What we want is for the government to realise how important international students are to the UK in so many ways, and to not to be targeted by net migration figures.

“We appreciate the effort of putting forward the motion and urge all MPs to support it as the government’s current approach to policies affecting international students is completely wrong.

“The motion is a very welcome and vital first step, but there is so much more to do.”

So far more than 30 MPs have backed the EDM which recognises the enormous cultural, academic and economic contribution that international students studying at UK universities make to the country.

The motion recognises that the public does not generally view international students to be ‘migrants’ and does not wish to see their number reduced and urges the government to exclude university students from efforts to bear down on immigration by removing them from any targets to reduce net migration.

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