International students are not viewed as immigrants by the majority of the British public and the majority don’t want to see numbers reduced, the results of a new poll reveal.
The poll, conducted by ComRes for Universities UK, revealed that only around a quarter (24 per cent) of British adults think of international students as immigrants. Of those that expressed a view, 75 per cent say they would like to see the same number, or more, international students in the UK, a figure which jumped to 87 per cent once information on the economic benefits of international students was provided.
The poll also revealed that the overwhelming majority of the British public (91 per cent) think that international students should be able to stay and work in the UK for a period of time after they have completed their study.
The poll, based on the views of over 2,000 British adults, found that:
– Of those that expressed a view, 75 per cent say they would like to see the same number, or more, foreign students in the UK.
– Of those who expressed a view, 71 per cent say they would support a policy to help boost growth by increasing overseas students, with only 7 per cent saying they would strongly oppose such a policy. Twenty-five per cent of British adults did not express an opinion on this issue.
– Ninety-one per cent think that international students should be able to stay and work in the UK for a period of time after they have completed their study.
– Just 25 per cent of leave and 23 per cent of remain voters said that they think of international students as immigrants.
– Of those that expressed a view, 81 per cent agree that international students have a positive impact on local economies and towns in which they study.
Research shows that overseas students at British universities support over 170,000 jobs in local communities across the UK. International students are also a major UK export, currently worth over £10.7 billion to the UK economy.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “These findings are a clear indication that any new policies aimed at lowering net migration figures by reducing the number of overseas students will not address public concerns over immigration. International students come to the UK, are welcomed by British people, study for a period, and then the overwhelming majority go home after their studies.
“It is very clear that a majority of the public recognises that overseas students are valuable, temporary visitors that make an important economic and cultural contribution to the UK.”
She continued: “While countries such as Australia, the USA and Canada have policies to grow the numbers of international students, the UK Government has said that it is considering policies to reduce numbers here. The negative economic impact of a reduction in international student numbers would be felt by local communities across the UK. International students support regional economies, create jobs, supply high level graduate skills, and ensure the sustainability of many courses at a regional level. Many international students return home having forged strong links in this country that provide long-term, ‘soft power’ and trade benefits for the UK.”
Article published 17th October 2016