Examination of Witnesses

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 12th February 2019.

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Vivienne Stern:

It is hard to predict. We can see a certain pattern in the response by EU students to previous changes in the UK. For example, with the increase in the fee from £3,000 to just over £9,000, you saw the numbers of EU students decline, and they took quite a while to bounce back. That indicates that there is a certain price sensitivity among EU students. They also have a huge amount of choice in relatively close geographic terms in Europe—other high-quality destinations that they could choose over the UK if we seem to make it difficult for them to come.

My long-term prediction, which is not shared by all our university vice-chancellor members, is that because the UK remains a first or second-choice destination for students who are globally mobile in many countries around the world, over time, we will work back to a position where we are still a very attractive destination for EU students. My real concern is what happens in the short to medium term, where we go from being very attractive, and it is very easy to come to the UK, to putting in place higher barriers in the form of a new visa regime. We could see a significant decrease as a result of that, at least in the short to medium term.

The fundamentals are strong, however. We have a high-quality system, and we offer something that is valuable in the long term. That is what we have to work to communicate to international audiences.