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International students focus of new UK parliamentary inquiry

A new inquiry has been launched by a British parliamentary committee into the landscape faced by international students in the country. The All Party Parliamentary Group for International Students will ask industry leaders how the UK can “help map the way forward” for prospective mobile students.

The inquiry is the first for the APPG International Students. Photo: Pixabay

The report will also be released after the MAC releases its investigation

Led by Lord Karan Bilimoria and Paul Bloomfield MP, the APPG inquiry will ask for written and oral evidence from experts in education, business, trade, and local communities. The resulting report will hope to answer questions over the sustainable future for international students of all levels in the UK.

“This is the first time we’re pooling together all international students and their impact”

Although there have been several reports into mobile students in the UK recently, this inquiry will investigate the impact of such students across regions and communities, but also across all levels of study.

“This report is unique in that we have excellent reports produced by the different organisations that represent the different areas, whether its independent schools, colleges or universities,” Lord Bilimoria told The PIE News.

“But this is the first time we’re pooling together all international students and the impact they have on Britain and the opportunities in the future.”

One key aspect of the report will be Brexit and its impact on both international students who are currently living in the UK, and on the sector’s future recruitment, according to Labour MP and the APPG’s chair, Paul Bloomfield.

“We must understand the impact that Brexit will have on international students and the consequent effects on communities in every region of the UK,” Bloomfield said in a statement.

“This new inquiry will get to the heart of concerns from students, institutions and communities, in developing recommendations on how we can ensure a sustainable future in which we can build on our strong position in welcoming international students to the UK.”

Although the report will likely be published after the date which EU negotiators have set for a deal to be agreed in principle, the final available EU summit on October 19, the APPG hopes that it can influence government and public opinion to soften its effect on mobile students.

“The reality is that Brexit is the elephant in the room for the United Kingdom, and it affects the international student sector,” Lord Bilimoria said.

The report will also be released after the MAC releases its investigation into the impact of Brexit on the UK labour market.

It is hoped that the APPG will, therefore, be able to “build upon and react to what the MAC report,” Bilimoria added.

The stakeholders in the sector hope that both reports will influence the government to change the classification of international students as migrants in official statistics, which has long been on the sector’s wish-list.

“Intelligent people working hard to ensure UK is genuinely welcoming to international students”

In her statement welcoming the launch of the inquiry, UUKi director Vivienne Stern also highlighted the immigration system as a key area to examine, and a key influence on the success of the UK market in future.

“It is more important than ever that the UK has a co-ordinated approach to welcoming and supporting our international students and graduates, given the increasing competition for these students and their enormous importance to the UK,” Stern said.

“This is also an opportune time to reassess the UK’s immigration system to attract international students to the UK to remain globally competitive post-Brexit. For these reasons we very much welcome this inquiry.”

Across social media, UK stakeholders such as Yinbo Yu of the NUS and Ruth Arnold of the University of Sheffield expressed their support for the inquiry.

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