97% go home when visas expire

25 August 2017

The government has, this week, published a number of very significant reports relating to international students and (net) migrationThe Home Secretary has also commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake a review of the impact of international students, by September 2018.

The most significant findings – which are being widely reported in the press - are that:

(A third, more detailed, ‘technical’ report on the same subject by the ONS is also available here).

Nevertheless, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has written to the MAC asking it to undertake ‘an objective assessment of the impact of international students which includes consideration of both EU and non-EU students at all levels of education’. 

The terms of reference are to:

‘Evaluate the economic and social impacts of international students in the UK including advice on:

  • The impact of tuition fees and other spending by international students on the national, regional, and local economy and on the education sector;
  • The economic and social impacts beyond education, including on the labour market, housing, transport and other services, in particular, the role they play in contributing to local economic growth;
  • Some breakdown of impacts by type and level of course, and institution;
  • The impact the recruitment of international students has on the provision and quality of education provided to domestic students’.

Dominic Scott, UKCISA’s Chief Executive said that

These are all hugely important announcements.  The exit check data confirms what many of us have been saying for years and totally contradicts those who have claimed that substantial numbers of students do not go home when they should do.  We are confident that the wider MAC review will confirm and document the very substantial economic and social net benefits which international students bring to the UK and hopeful that we can now move from a period of often ill-informed debate and unnecessary restrictions to a more welcoming regime which adequately recognises the true value of all international students to the UK’

Lord Karan Bilimoria, UKCISA’s President and one of the co-chairs of the all Party Parliamentary Group on International Students said

‘I feel completely vindicated as this destroys the myth of international students overstaying and making any significant impact on net migration.  They are one of the UK’s most valuable assets, generate more than £26 billion for the economy, enhance the experience of our domestic students and create powerful links for us around the world.  The sooner this is properly recognised and policies changed, the better, and if the MAC review helps with that process, we will all be delighted.’