British HE immigration cap costs €7.4 billion

Nieuws | de redactie
15 mei 2012 | Cameron’s coalition aims at cutting foreign student numbers by 50.000. What will the economic impact on British HE be? A recent report estimates a price tag of up to €7.4 billion. A leading think tank criticizes the government for playing a “numbers game”.

Conservative government officials with Prime Minister DavidCameron at the top pledged to cut the number of immigrants fromaround 190.000 to the “tens of thousands”. Foreign students will beaffected by this policy as well. Experts from the Institute ofPublic Policy Research (IPPR) now published a report estimating the damage this rule willbring to the British economy.

Under the current regime which aims at cutting overseas studentnumbers by 50.000, the British higher education sector will loseout on £2-3 billion (€2.5-3.7 billion) in economic value. Comparedto a high immigration growth scenario this amount doubles to £4-6billion (€5-7.4 billion).

Playing the migration numbers game

The IPPR argues that the current government policy of countingall foreign students for the net migration calculations issimplistic and misleading. The majority of them would not stay inthe country, which is partially due to the toughening immigration regulations put forwardby Cameron’s coalition.

The report authors argue that instead a 15% measure should beapplied, where only a share of incoming foreign students isaccounted for as long-term immigrants. UK’s main competitors inexporting higher education, namely the U.S., Canada and Australia,do not account for foreign students as permanent immigrantseither.

“The decisive reason why the UK government is sticking with thecurrent method of measuring student migration flows is not agenuine concern with long-term net migration but a desire to ‘game’its own net migration target by banking large apparent reductionsin 2013 and 2014 which reflect the limitations of the currentmethod of measurement rather than real changes in long-term netmigration trends. The government needs to take internationalstudents out of the ‘immigration’ numbers game, which is damagingour universities and colleges, our economy and our internationalstanding.”

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