Overseas Students

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 15th May 2013.

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Photo of Roger Williams Roger Williams Liberal Democrat, Brecon and Radnorshire 11:30 am, 15th May 2013

What discussions he has had with his ministerial colleagues and others on increasing the accessibility of educational institutions in Wales to students from overseas.

Photo of Mark Williams Mark Williams Liberal Democrat, Ceredigion

What discussions he has had with his ministerial colleagues and others on increasing the accessibility of educational institutions in Wales to students from overseas.

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

A thriving higher education sector is vital to our economy and I recognise the significant contribution that overseas students make to the sector. The reforms we have introduced have tackled abuse of the student migration system while protecting universities, to ensure that they can continue to attract the best and the brightest.

Photo of Roger Williams Roger Williams Liberal Democrat, Brecon and Radnorshire

I am sure that the Minister will want to join me in congratulating Swansea university, whose pro-vice chancellor I met last night, on the start of its new, second campus, which will house 5,000 students. Will my hon. Friend make every effort to publicise the fact that Welsh universities are open for business and open to applications from overseas students?

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Welsh higher education institutions attract a greater proportion of overseas students than similar institutions in England, Northern Ireland or Scotland; they are at the forefront of attracting overseas students. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State visited the new campus at Swansea university recently; it illustrates the strong offer that the university now has.

Photo of Mark Williams Mark Williams Liberal Democrat, Ceredigion

Notwithstanding the Government’s necessary direction of travel on immigration policy as set out in the Queen’s Speech, may I ask my hon. Friend to endorse the work of Aberystwyth university, which plans to treble the number of its overseas students by 2017? That will be essential for the local economy, and for building links with emerging economies throughout the world.

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

Aberystwyth is another university with an extremely strong track record of attracting overseas students. In fact, in an international survey of students, it was voted the best overseas university for student satisfaction and the best place to live. It is front and centre of our efforts to attract more overseas students.

Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Labour, Blaenau Gwent

What discussions has the Minister had with the Home Office about the impact on higher education institutions in Wales of 42,000 fewer students coming to the UK?

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

There is a constant close dialogue between us, the Home Office and the Minister for Universities and Science about how we can attract more overseas students to the UK. I do not know what figures Nick Smith has seen, but if he looks at the figures for overseas students coming to Wales, he will see that there has been a 73% increase in the past five years, and those numbers are continuing to go up. [Interruption.]