Response to the Migration Advisory Committee report

11 September 2018

Responding to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report on the ‘Impact of international students in the UK’, Russell Group Head of Policy, Jessica Cole said:

“The Migration Advisory Committee has highlighted the immense contribution of international students to the UK’s prosperity and global reach, and rightly underlines the risk of being overtaken by our competitors as a top destination for international students.

“On the politically live issue of migration targets, it is important to be clear that the MAC has called for the continued inclusion of students in the migration statistics, which is sensible and with which few people would disagree. However, they have brought into question the overall target to reduce numbers, in which international students are included. As the Committee says, we should actively seek to grow the numbers of international students in the UK. Their inclusion in an arbitrary cap is at odds with the Government’s own ambition to increase education exports to £30bn by 2020.  

“Growing the number of international students clearly depends on the UK having an attractive and competitive offer, which in turn depends on increasing the opportunities for international graduates to stay here for work, for a limited period, once their studies are complete. The Committee acknowledges that this is an area where the UK is now lagging and we hope to work with Ministers on significantly improving the UK’s post-study work arrangements.

“The Committee’s warning over the potential consequences of Brexit for UK higher education are timely and stark. The Committee says it does ‘not see any upside for the sector in leaving the EU: any barriers to student mobility are likely to have a negative impact.’ It is urgent that the Government now sets out plans to ensure that, after Brexit, the UK will continue to benefit from the dynamic flow of people and ideas so central to our country’s knowledge economy and future growth.”


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