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Business calls for international students to be reclassified

In a letter to the Telegraph, organised by London First, business leaders have called for the government to classify international students as temporary visitors, preventing them being caught up in the debate about immigration targets.

The letter in full:

SIR – This week’s visit of Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, to Britain provides an opportunity to address an anomaly in our immigration system. Indian students studying here are, like all students from outside the EU, included in net migration figures. This drives the Government to restrict numbers and adds to the bureaucracy for incoming students.

The number of Indian students in Britain was halved between 2011 and 2014, while competitors such as America and Australia have increased the numbers they attract. We should classify international students as temporary visitors, preventing them being caught up in debates about immigration targets.

Britain’s economy benefits from the country welcoming international students in two ways. First, British-educated graduates around the world look fondly on Britain as a vital trading partner. Secondly, foreign graduates educated here can help to fill skills shortages in Britain.

For this reason we also urge the Government to re-establish the post-study work visa, which allowed graduates of British universities to work in Britain for two years.

John Allan
Chairman, London First
Ian Powell
Chairman and Senior Partner, PwC
Kevin Smith
Senior Partner, Head Of London Region, KPMG
Craig Calhoun
Director, London School of Economics
Des Gunewardena
Chairman and CEO, D&D London
Michael Arthur
President and Provost, UCL
Richard Simpson
Managing Director, Property, The Unite Group
Paul Curran
Vice Chancellor, City University
John Raftery
Vice Chancellor, London Metropolitan University
Mark Boleat
Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee, City of London
Harold Paisner
Senior Partner Emeritus, Berwin Leighton Paisner
Paul Thompson
Rector, Royal College of Art
Tim Clement-Jones
London Managing Partner, DLA Piper
Edward Byrne
Principal, King’s College London
Barrie Hadfield
Chief Technology Officer, Workshare
Molly Jackson
Board Member, London First and Governor, Lincoln University

New research from London First and PwC shows international students are a boon to the UK, bringing a net benefit of £2.3 billion to the UK economy from London universities alone.

Our recent report, London Calling: International students’ contribution to Britain’s economic growth, concludes that the capital’s higher education system is an export success story, with 92 per cent of students saying they would recommend studying in the UK to their friends and family.

The survey of current and alumni students from across London’s universities found that 60 per cent of international students are more likely to do business with the UK as a result of studying here.

It dismisses the myth that international students are a burden on public services, such as the NHS. Instead, they were shown to contribute a total of £2.8 billion through the spending they bring to the country, while only consuming £540 million in public spending.

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