Written evidence submitted by the University
of Sunderland (SV58)|
International students are vital to the health and
strength both of the UK university sector, and the UK economy
overall. The UK is a global leader in the recruitment of international
studentssecond only to the US. This is a vital component
of the UK's ability to compete effectively in the global knowledge
economy, and to drive the economic growth that the UK needs.
The global growth opportunity in relation to international
students is significant. If the UK is able to hold market share
in a global market which is growing by 7% per year, by 2030 there
could be more than one million additional international students
in the UK. A conservative estimate suggests that this could be
worth around £5 billion to the UK, with potentially 35,000
additional academic jobs, and 45,000 support staff jobs created.
The international activities of universities contribute
around £5.3 billion to the UK economy. This includes the
fees that are paid directly to universities from international
students, as well as the additional spending from students and
families which benefits the economy. In addition, it is estimated
that international students generate around £3.26 billion
knock-on output for the UK economy.
The potential exists to double the income from this source over
the next 5-10 years, significantly improving the UK's overall
balance of trade.
Universities have made plans to increase their numbers
of international students over the five-year period from 2008-09
to 2012-13 (the latest years for which plans are available). These
plans indicate a projected increase in full-time international
students of around 38,000, or 23% over this period. Income from
international students is projected to increase by £661 million
over this period, an increase of around 37%. These projections
are likely to have been altered in the most recent forecasts,
in the light of the increasing importance of international activities,
and the changes to funding for UK and EU students.
Having a global network of alumni who studied at
Britain's universities significantly increases our soft power
and influence abroad. When combined with the economic impact,
international student mobility becomes an extremely powerful tool
to increase the UK's global reach and leverage.
We do not believe that students should be counted
as economic migrants. They are not in the UK for economic reasons,
their time in the UK does not count towards any later application
for settlement, unlike workers, and they have no recourse to public
funds. This remains our overall policy goal.
The following points are important:
The International Passenger Survey (IPS) data on
which the UK Border Agency's (UKBA) data estimates are based are
unreliable. In particular, it is considered that they underestimate
the outflow of emigrants from the UK.
Universities UK (UUK) will be working on sourcing
alternative, more reliable data sources. These comprise data from
Higher Education Statistics Agency, the Home Office's visa records,
and eBorders passenger flight mandate data. It is very important
that data can be shared between UUK and UKBA to support intelligent
The UK has some of the most internationalised universities
among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD) countries, with international students accounting for 14.7%
of all higher education enrolments in 2008. For full-time postgraduate
students, this figure rises to 44%. UK universities welcome students
from over 190 countries.
There were 251,334 non-EU international students
in UK Higher Education Institution's in 2008-09. Within this total,
144,784 were in the first year of study in 2008-09.
There were 95,995 students studying full-time at
undergraduate level. There were 117,920 students studying full-time
at postgraduate level.
A number of policy options are being considered by
the Government to address the issue of student immigration and
perceived abuse of the existing Tier 4 route.
- Raising the level of courses students can study
under Tier 4 largely to degree-level courses and child students.
Only Highly Trusted Sponsors will be permitted to offer courses
below degree level to adults.
- Introducing tougher entry criteria for students
including raising the level of English language competence from
level B1 to B2.
- Ensuring students return overseas after their
course by i) closing Tier 1 Post Study Work and ii) requiring
that students wishing to remain in the UK to complete further
study after their initial course will have to show clear evidence
of academic progression.
Important points to consider in respect of the proposals
Dealing with abuse of the system:
there is very little of this in the university sector (estimated
non-compliance in the university sector is around 2% of students)
but we are committed to eliminating it.
Feeder colleges: there
is a strong policy drive to restrict access for international
students at institutions offering provision below university level.
However, this ignores the complex partnership arrangements which
universities have with a wide range of pathway providers. It is
thus extremely important to differentiate between those students
attending feeder colleges who intend to progress to a UK university,
and those who have no such intention.
Highly-Trusted Sponsor (HTS):
HTS status is a powerful policy tool which, if used appropriately,
could potentially deal with a lot of the issues of concern to
English language requirement:
we believe that HTS institutions should be able to determine their
own language requirements, since that is a matter of academic
judgement. Between 30 and 50% of international students joining
university programmes prepare for study by taking a range of preparatory
programmes in the UK, run by universities or in partnership with
other providers in the UK.
Post-study Work Route: we
believe this route needs further analysis, as opposed to outright
closure at this stage. It is a valuable route for international
graduates to build on their academic experience with a period
For the 2010-11 academic year the University of Sunderland
has 2,100 international students studying on campus. These students
bring an income to the University of £15 million in tuition
fees and £1.5 million in accommodation fees. The students
also have a major economic impact within the City where many students
live in private rented accommodation and also spend on their daily
living costs. It is estimated that the additional income to the
city is around £10 million per year. The total income to
the City as a whole is therefore over £25 million per year.
The proposals will not only impact on the University
itself but will also impact on businesses within Sunderland such
as retail, private accommodation etc.
The proposed changes to the Tier 4 student visa regime,
which are currently under consideration, will severely harm the
numbers of students wishing to come to study in Sunderland. The
city, and cities across the whole of UK, will become less attractive
as a chosen place of study. Students will instead chose to study
in countries such as Australia, USA, Germany and other European
In particular, the proposals do not allow visas for
sub degree level programmes, where students then feed into degree
programmes and the removal of the Post Study Work Visa are particularly
Although it is difficult to be precise, the new Tier
4 regime could result in a 25% reduction in the number of international
students coming to study in Sunderland, with an annual economic
impact on the city of around £6 million.
One of the key propositions of the proposal is that
Tier 4 should make a contribution towards the reduction in migration
to the UK. However, this migration is not permanent and this goes
against the aim to grow the number of international students studying
in the UK.
111 Source: From Austerity to Prosperity, McKinsey
Global Institute, November 2010. Back
Source: The impact of universities on the UK economy, Universities
UK, November 2009. Back
A full summary of the Tier 4 consultation proposals can be found
on the UKBA website via the following link