Immigration numbers may be far lower than expected after the UK border force reported that ninety-seven percent of international students migrate to other countries after completing their education.
Following years of news reports claiming that many international students remained in the UK illegally without visas, The Telegraph reported that exit checks — introduced last year — indicate that far fewer students are staying in the UK than originally thought.
As a result, the official net migration figure — currently standing around 240,000 — could also be far lower than previously thought.
The Guardian reported that Whitehall sources released these figures after “the Home Office unveiled separate plans to ask migration experts to examine the impact of international students on the job market”.
Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, claimed on behalf of the government that they wanted to “keep the door open to genuine students but would crack down on abuse of visas by poor-quality institutions”.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will be questioned on the matter and be pushed to investigate whether non-EU students have a significant impact on the working forces and the economy of the UK.
MAC will also be inspecting the influence of rising tuition fees and the average spending of international students, and whether that impacts local and national economic growth.
After the USA, the UK is the most popular destination for international education, with reports showing a six per cent increase in applications for Russell group universities.
The Guardian has reported that “visa applications sponsored by universities are 17% higher than they were in 2010”.
The director of the Russell Group, Tim Bradshaw, believes this is a step forward for the UK as it will relieve pressure on international students who may have been wrongly accused of illegal immigration; hopefully creating a more “diverse learning environment”.
As reported in The Mancunion earlier this year, “the effects of Brexit on UK businesses are already becoming apparent, after research done by LinkedIn revealed that the number of EU graduates looking for jobs in the UK fell by 18 per cent between May and July 2016.”
Speaking to The Guardian, Alister Jarvis, the chief executive of Universities UK, thought that the examination by MAC will make us “appreciate the net benefits of international students” and that “this is an opportunity to build on the considerable evidence that shows that international students have a very positive impact on UK economy”.
“International students also enrich our campuses and the experience of UK students, culturally. Many return home having built strong professional relationships and personal links that provide long-term soft-power benefits to the UK”.
It’s argued that the reputation of UK universities may be at risk from Brexit, and international students are reportedly struggling for reasons to remain in the country after Brexit, amid claims that their stays are illegal.
However, the results of MAC could force the government to alter their position somewhat and take into account the importance of international students to the UK’s economy.