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:

We have done a bit of analysis as Universities UK on the economic impact of international students. The headline figure is that those students contribute about £29 billion to the UK economy through various mechanisms and create 200,000 jobs—I will write to the Committee with the figures, because I am concerned that I will misquote them.

They have a significant effect not only directly on institutions but on the many parts of the UK economy that they touch, such as taxi drivers, corner shops, bars and restaurants. The university sector is distributed right across the UK. There is almost no part of the UK that does not have a university in some geographical proximity. If you think of it as an industry, it is not one that is concentrated in London and the south-east.

I was in Paisley recently and I went to visit the University of the West of Scotland. I got off the train and the thing that pottered through my mind was, “Why on earth would you not want international students coming to Paisley, spending money in the local economy, enjoying Scotland, going and spending money on the west coast—all the things that those individuals can do in terms of attracting their friends and family to come and spend some time with them?” I think there is really good reason to think that this is not just special pleading for universities; these are attractive individuals for a much broader range of reasons.