Written evidence submitted by Study Group
A 2007 report by our government stated that in 2003-04,
the Education and Training export sector was worth £27.7
billion. In 2010, we estimate this to be nearly £40 billion
and thus the UK's second biggest contributor to our net balance
of payments, after financial services.
International students contribute £10 billion
in tuition fees and living costs to the UK economy each year.
Independently audited research shows that the international
students prepared by Study Group for higher education at UK Universities
will spend around £120,000 each, over an average six year
period, as they prepare for and then undertake Bachelor degrees,
and Masters programmes. This figure covers tuition and living
costs only (based on UKBA requirements).
Universities UK states that 46% of all international
students admitted to UK universities come from sub-degree preparation
courses. Any reduction in international students as a result of
visa constraints would have a severe financial impact on a HE
sector already under threat from funding cuts.
There will be major job losses in the public and
private sector as a result of a cap on international students;
we estimate 20,000 at sub-degree level alone.
These job losses will be concentrated in areas such
as the South Coast of England where there are large numbers of
private educational establishments in mainly Conservative constituencies,
and in university towns and cities which are predominantly Liberal
The Australian government has just acknowledged the
negative material impact on GDP that its recent tightening of
visa restrictions for international students has had. Job losses
in the sector are expected to be in the thousands, including university
The global education sector is the largest industry
sector in the world after healthcare, and one in which the UK
has a pre-eminent advantage with our language and the gold standard
quality of our education system.
International students can legitimately stay in the
UK to study for up to eight years, as many enter the UK to study
GCSEs followed by A-levels, in order to win places at UK universities.
The government's own data (from the Home Office's
publication The Migrant Journey) shows that international
students are not immigrants. Of the 186,500 students granted visas
in 2004, only 5,568 later gained settlement rightsie only
3%. They have a minimal effect on net migration as there are roughly
the same number of students leaving the UK each year as there
are entering it.
The reason many international students have to undertake
preparation programmes prior to entry to a UK university is because
many countries have a 12-year secondary system (in contrast to
the UK's 13 years), and often both English language and study
skills need to be improved.
Unlike EU students, who study at UK universities
under subsidy from the taxpayer, international students provide
valuable full fee income, which subsidises domestic students'
places and helps to sustain the quality of research and teaching
in our world-class university sector.
International students not only enrich the learning
environment for domestic students and provide substantial economic
support to universities, but also act as valuable ambassadors
for future commercial, diplomatic and cultural ties that benefit
the UK. Note David Cameron's recent trips to India and China in
which he emphasised, "...how much we [the UK] want to welcome
international students to Britain".
Every other developed country with a significant
HE sector is trying to attract increasing numbers of international
students, as they understand the benefits.
As international students are in fact "education
tourists" and make such an important economic contribution
to the UK, why on earth is our government intent on keeping them
6 See www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2010/s3068304.htm