In a letter published in the Financial Times, the group of mayors from both major parties point out how international students support local businesses and boost tourism, adding that £8billion of the £20.3billion of net benefits are generated in areas including Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool.
“These students also enrich our university campuses and the experience of UK students”
The letter was jointly signed by the seven mayors: Sadiq Khan of London, Andy Street of the West Midlands, Ben Houchen of the Tees Valley, James Palmer of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Tim Bowles of the West of England, Andy Burnham of Greater Manchester and Steve Rotheram of Liverpool.
The mayors write that while the UK continues to be one of the most attractive destinations in the world for international students, the latest recruitment figures have shown a slowdown when compared to its competitors.
“As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it is important that any future immigration system acknowledges the vital contribution international students make to regional jobs and growth,” they write.
The letter also highlights the contribution international students make to UK higher education institutions.
“These students also enrich our university campuses and the experience of UK students.
“Many students return home having built strong professional and personal links that benefit our regions, and the UK as a whole in terms of long-lasting, ‘soft’ diplomatic power,” it reads.
“This includes sending a more open and welcoming message to international students, and improving post-study work opportunities for qualified international graduates in the UK to work and contribute to our regional economies.”
The mayors’ letter can be read in full here.
It is not the first time that Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has called for flexible immigration system.
In December 2017, Khan proposed a new post-study work visa for international students, criticising the changes made to the UK visa system by PM Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.
In recent weeks, May has been under renewed pressure to reconsider her stance on including international students in net migration figures.