There is only one subject I want to cover this month (but an extraordinarily important one) and that is the Inquiry by the Migration Advisory Committee into International Students, to chart out how we, with you, might develop and submit evidence and to encourage as many other organisations as possible to do so.
In the context of the wider immigration debate – and indeed the future post Brexit - this could be one of the most important opportunities we have had for many years to pull together and present all the evidence which we know exists of the huge, not to say critical, value of international students to the UK to ensure this is an area not of continued debate and controversy but one which, once again, is firmly accepted as being an essential part of the UK’s growth and prosperity, international links and reputation.
As you may remember the Inquiry was commissioned by the Home Secretary in August ‘to assess the impact of international students in the UK’ and the MAC have now produced two documents to launch the Inquiry
(There will also apparently be answers published to a number of Frequently Asked Questions by 17 November so do also look out for that update).
As you can see the Briefing Note is largely factual and statistical showing the numbers of students arriving each year, for what level of course, at which sorts of institutions, some estimates of numbers departing (though as they accept, far less reliable), the subjects they study, numbers staying on to work and some very brief initial comments on possible measures of overall impact.
It also notes the lack of reliable data on students in FE colleges and says that it would in particular welcome more information on that and their value and impact.
The actual Call for Evidence is a relatively brief document, says that it welcomes evidence from anyone with relevant knowledge, expertise or experience and on any relevant aspect but then outlines around a dozen questions or areas of particular interest including:
- What impact does the payment of migrant student fees to the educational provider have?
- What are the fiscal impacts of migrant students, including student loan arrangements?
- Do migrant students help support employment in educational institutions?
- How much money do migrant students spend in the national, regional and local economy and what is the impact of this?
- How do migrant students affect the educational opportunities available to UK students?
- To what extent does the demand from migrant students for UK education dictate the supply of that education provision and the impact of this on UK students?
- What is the impact of migrant students on the demand for housing provision, on transport (particularly local transport) and on health provision?
- What impacts have migrant students had on changes to tourism and numbers of visitors to the UK?
- What role do migrant students play in extending UK soft power and influence abroad?
- If migrant students take paid employment while they are studying, what types of work do they do?
- What are the broader labour market impacts of students transferring from Tier 4 to Tier 2 including on net migration and on shortage occupations?
- Whether, and to what extent, migrant students enter the labour market, when they graduate and what types of post-study work do they do?
How we are planning to respond
There is already very considerable information on the economic value of international students (the Briefing itself notes the recent UUK analysis of economic output, there is also a recent DfE paper on economic value, the Exeter, London and Sheffield regions have done studies in the past on net economic benefits) so that can, with anything else, be pulled together and quoted relatively easily.
Much of the information required however is quite specialist and in some parts technical and we know that numbers of national organisations (such as UUK and doubtless others) will be attempting to pull together hard economic data from a national perspective. If you are helping to prepare any of this from your institutions and would be prepared to copy any of it to us, that would be hugely appreciated.
But UKCISA members can, we are sure, also produce evidence and stories of the intrinsic and social value of international students - the beneficial impact on your UK students, faculty, institution, region, local employment market or ways in which they contribute to local communities. The MAC are, apparently, also interested in that so please attempt to include those facts in any evidence and again if you could also send any material to us we will collate so that others can also use.
- If you would be prepared to help with any of this please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 1 December.
- We will then produce a digest of what we have received, together with what we ourselves know, by early January
- So that UKCISA members can draw on any aspects as they make their own submissions by the deadline of 26 January 2018.
Responses by others
But as I say it is not just responses from the education sector which will be important.
It’s absolutely vital that we all do whatever we can to encourage and enable other organisations whose livelihoods depend on international students to respond as comprehensively and as extensively as possible – local employers, chambers of commerce, developers and investors, entrepreneurs, industry groups, professional bodies, arts organisations, charities, etc – anyone who directly benefits from the presence of international students in our communities and in our economies (and anyone who would suffer if this very substantial flow of students was not able to continue).
We need to enlist as many voices as possible to demonstrate and document, at a pretty critical moment in terms of the UK’s future immigration policy, how and why international students are in many ways a special case and a particular asset needing protection, support and encouragement.
And to send as much relevant material as possible to MAC@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
Very best wishes
Dominic Scott, Dominic Scott, Chief Executive, UKCISA