Immigration remains one of the key Brexit issues for the HE sector. Theresa May’s visit to India added more fuel to the flames as it dominated both talks and the media (International Business Times, November 7) pages, with the indication that Mrs May rejected the request for easier visa norms for Indian students. A country with a wealth three times that of the UK is starting to recognise bargaining power may lie with them, as students look to higher education outside this country.
An impassioned piece (Times Higher Education Supplement, November 11) from Sir Keith Burnett clearly outlined the impact the government’s approach is having in India. With a 50 per cent drop in the number of Indians studying in the UK since 2010 should be ‘the mother of all wake-up calls’. He says that ‘Other countries are rubbing their hands with glee at our stupidity,’ and that trade cannot sustain us alone, clearly highlighting that international students to bring £14 billion every year to the UK economy.
Looking to the future he warns that with this policy ‘we are destroying hard-earned goodwill with a huge proportion of the world’s population’. He implores people to care as ‘[their] children’s jobs in the future could depend on it.’
Compounding Sir Keith’s view and demonstrating the impacts of this ongoing policy view towards immigration, the Independent (November 16) reports the impact already being felt with a significant number of EU student no-shows at leading UK business schools; and Madeleine Atkins, CEO of Hefce (Times Higher Education, October 24) saying that the future talent pool for teaching and research staff is showing real shortages.
The recognition of the importance of the immigration issue for financial services sector was outlined in The Financial Times (5 October) reporting that the City elite continues to appeal to Theresa May to ‘keep an open attitude to skilled immigration, saying the issue is as important as keeping access to the EU’s single market for trade and services’.
The desire to limit access to international students does not seem to be a view shared by all. A poll ‘welcoming’ students in The Times (October 26) found ‘five times more people think that international students at British universities have a positive impact than [they have] negative effect.’