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London speaks: we welcome international students

A survey of Londoners by ComRes, commissioned by London First, asked for their views on international students.

The poll found that only 17 per cent think of non-EU students in Britain as immigrants. They overwhelmingly believe that international students:

  • provide useful global networks to promote trade with the UK (66%)
  • pay tuition fees meaning that they make a valuable contribution to the UK economy (72%)
  • bring valuable skills to UK businesses after they graduate (68%)

But they also disagree that:

  • International students take places off UK students (only 32% agree)
  • They ought to study in their home countries (only 25% agree)
  • They have a negative impact on public services (only 19% agree).

Our chief executive, Baroness Jo Valentine, wrote in City AM, that London’s businesses fear a talent crunch due to draconian policy on high-skilled immigration. Baroness Valentine said:

“International students make up a significant proportion of the so-called net migration figures – which are used by anti-immigration campaigners to beat the government with.

“The result is that the number of Indian students in Britain halved between 2011 and 2014. Meanwhile, our competitors, such as America and Australia, have increased the numbers they attract.

“But only 17% of Londoners polled consider non-EU international students studying in Britain to be migrants, so it would be more accurate to reclassify them as temporary visitors.

“To make Britain more attractive to international students – while also boosting our economy – we should consider reintroducing the post-study work visa, which allowed graduates of UK universities to work here for a couple of years after studying.”

The full survey data is here

Contact: Mark Hilton, mhilton@londonfirst.co.uk

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