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According to a new report by British Future the public strongly support international student migration because they understand the economic and educational benefits brought to Britain by those who come here to study.   The report draws on the results of a nationally representative poll by ICM of 2,111 people, as well as the feedback from six workshops held in York, Bristol and Nottingham. It reveals that:


  • 59% of the public believe the Government should not reduce international student numbers, even if that limits the Government’s ability to cut immigration numbers overall. Only 22% take the opposing view.
  • 60% think that international students bring money into their local economy. Only 12% think they take money out.
  • 61% agree that Britain’s universities would have less funding to invest in top-quality facilities and teaching without the higher fees paid by international students. Only 7% disagree.
  • 75% believe that international students should be allowed to stay and work in Britain after graduating from British universities, using their skills for the benefit of our economy, for at least a period of time.
  • Only 22% think that international students should count as migrants. Most people did not understand why they would be counted towards the Government’s immigration targets.


Based on public opinion, the report recommends that the government should remove international students from any net migration target. This should coincide with the launch of an international student growth strategy, backed by investment, to promote British universities overseas, build new international partnerships and attract more international students to Britain.


The report also argues that the Government should make a renewed effort to communicate a consistent message that Britain welcomes international students, and should enhance opportunities for qualified international graduates to stay in the UK to work and contribute to the economy.


Read the full report by British Future, International students and the UK immigration debate.