All 650 MPs in the UK have received a letter detailing the cost and benefit of international students in their constituency, and an estimate of their net contribution.
“The evidence on the benefits of international students is so clear”
Labour MP and shadow Brexit minister Paul Blomfield tweeted in support of the campaign, expressing his hope that new policy will recognise the positive impact of international students in the UK.
At the beginning of the year, a report by London Economics commissioned by HEPI and Kaplan was published, showing that the international students’ contribution to the UK is 10 times the cost of hosting them.
According to the data, the 231,065 international students who commenced their studies in the UK in 2015/16 had contributed £20.3 billion to the UK economy. The public cost hosting international students – including education, health and social security – was set at a total of £2.3bn.
The research was submitted as evidence for the Migration Advisory Committee inquiry, with the hope it would influence its recommendations.
But when it was released in mid-September, the MAC report was widely deemed a “missed opportunity,” as it contained no recommendation for a new PSW visa and advised against taking students out of the net migration figures.
“We naively assumed this research would help persuade the Migration Advisory Committee to recommend a warmer welcome for international students (as in other countries) so that the UK could start recovering some lost ground,” HEPI director Nick Hillman wrote in a blog post.
“The sort of changes we envisaged were the removal of students from the official target for reducing net inward migration.”
HEPI, Kaplan and London Economics also produced bespoke information for each constituency for a drop-in session for MPs early this year, Hillman told The PIE News.
“Only a few MPs turned up, but those who did were really keen to engage with the data for their own area,” he said.
With the new immigration white paper reportedly around the corner – its publication is expected later this week – the organisations thought it would be a good moment to remind MPs of the economic contribution of international students.
“Our hope is that [the letters] will help encourage MPs to put pressure on the government for a smarter approach towards international students before, during and after the publication of the white paper,” he said.
“We also hope it will help the MPs engage local support for a warmer welcome for international students. We remain hopeful the policy will change because the evidence on the benefits of international students is so clear.”