Last week, an event called #WeAreInternational was hosted at the House of Commons of the UK Parliament in London by co-chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Students Paul Blomfield (MP) and Lord Karan Bilimoria. Its aim was to explain to MPs and peers why it is in the UK’s national interest to create policies that welcome more global students.
Prof Rebecca Hughes, director of Education at the British Council, and Neil Carberry, director of People and Skills at the Confederation of British Industry, said how £25.8 billion is generated for the UK through on- and off-campus spending by foreign students and their visitors. They said that spending by foreign students supported 206,000 jobs all over the UK, and 64% British adults think that these students have a positive impact on the local economy. “One in seven countries around the world has a prime minister or head of state who studied in a UK higher education institution,” they noted.
Moving beyond pure economics, Prof Sir Keith Burnett, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield and co-founder of #WeAreInternational, said, “We need to see foreign students for what they are—a precious part of our universities and society. They contribute knowledge and skills. They train in our hospitals and give generously to charities in cities across the UK. They are vital to our businesses and economy.”
This event was organised against the backdrop of the decline in talented students, including Indian students, coming to the UK, concerned by a lack of welcome and post-study work opportunities.