Eastern Powerhouse letter to PM Rishi Sunak - International Students and Immigration
On 22nd May 2023, Eastern Powerhouse Chair, James Palmer wrote to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, and the Secretary of State for Education, on behalf of our Members, regarding the way of counting International Students to Immigration Numbers, and its impact on the East of England.
Full text follows:
Dear Prime Minister,
RE: International Students and Immigration
I am writing to you on behalf of Members of Eastern Powerhouse with our shared concern about the inclusion of foreign students in immigration numbers. Our belief is that the positive impact on the economy of the East of England - and of the United Kingdom as a whole - by foreign students, educated at our exceptional universities, should be the primary concern of Government and any movement to limit numbers or stymy opportunity for students to come here from abroad should be rejected.
Research by Universities UK suggests that in the East of England around £2bn per year is created for the economy by foreign students using the knowledge they have gained from education here. Given the significant importance of the education sector in the East, with Cambridge University alone creating around £30bn per year for the UK economy, any decision to cut student numbers should be met with extreme caution.
For businesses in the East, recruitment is the biggest concern, with the ability to attract highly educated staff a particular worry. This is common across sectors and is already limiting productivity in the region. In research, start-up, science and technology companies, limiting foreign students would have a significant detrimental effect. The economy in the East of England is driven by multiple small companies at the vanguard of technology in life science, technology and green energy and the Eastern Powerhouse fully supports the need for foreign students to be part of that burgeoning sector.
The Eastern Powerhouse would like to see immigration figures produced without foreign students included. We believe this would lead to a clearer understanding of net immigration.