UK: ‘closed for business’

Nieuws | de redactie
24 juli 2012 | The UK Government should ignore students in its ‘net migration statistics’, says the President of the British Academy Sir Adam Roberts at the Academy's Annual General Meeting. “They are a separate and distinct category, and should be recognized as such" he stressed.

“The starting point should properly be recognition of thestrength of UK humanities and social science teaching andresearch”, Sir Adam Roberts said in his annual speech.

“The international standing of research in our disciplines. TheTimes Higher league tables, to cite only one source, show a largernumber of UK institutions in the top 100 worldwide for humanitiesand social science than tables for other subjects; The ability toattract the most talented researchers from home and from overseasand to support them throughout their careers; The capacity toattract excellent students, undergraduate and postgraduate, fromall over the world. The majority of overseas students in the UK arestudying our disciplines – contributing to the health of ouruniversities and our economy.”

Lowering standards to attract foreigners

“At the same time we face risks. I should mention briefly therisk, highlighted in some recent newspaper reports, that UKuniversities, in their recruiting of non-EU students, may belowering their standards and treat foreigners preferentially. Thereis a strong collective interest in ensuring that this does nothappen.”

“Much the most immediate and serious concern relates to barriersto researcher and student mobility. The Academy is concerned thatthe government’s current immigration policies – and the perceptionthereof, which is a serious problem in itself – are having apotentially damaging impact on the free flow of academicinterchange and the ability of the UK to recruit the most talentedoverseas researchers and students.”

Cost of strict immigration policies: £3.6billion

“The Academy has repeatedly called for action to be taken toaddress the perception that the UK is ‘closed for business’ asregards a wide range of academic exchanges. In our most recent call- on Postgraduate Funding – the Academy drew attention to thedamage that might occur to the supply of students from overseas,resulting from the government’s current student visa requirements.The government’s own risk assessment, undertaken last year,estimated that over four years the policy could cost the UK (in aworst-case scenario) £3.6 billion, including the loss of studenttuition fees to universities and other direct, as well as indirect,financial costs.”

“So I repeat here the call the British Academy made earlier thismonth that the immigration policy for overseas university studentsshould be changed – overseas university students must be removedfrom the net migration statistics. They are a separate and distinctcategory and should be recognized as such.”

Reputation HE sector unscathed

“Even if, like all worst-case scenarios, this is overstated, itis surely folly that such obstacles have been placed in the way ofUK higher education’s capacity to attract overseas students andacademics. Apart from anything else, UK higher education is one ofthe most successful and effective sectors of our economy andnational life – and one which unlike the banks and much of thecity, has managed to keep its hard-earned reputation reasonablyintact when all around are losing theirs in a morass of recessioncompounded by scandal.”


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