It’s time to remove international students from the net migration target

I’ve recently been arguing that the government should remove international students from the net migration target. You can read my letter to the Evening Standard below:

Bravo to the six Senior Tories who intend to vote for removing international students from net migration figures. The net migration target, like all state-mandated quotas, is folly, but including students in this measure is especially damaging. In her opposition to this measure, the Prime Minister mistakenly believes she can win the confidence of voters by appearing tough on immigration. But ComRes polling last year found that only 1 in 4 British people consider international students to be immigrants.

There is no justification for shutting our doors to some of the best and brightest from abroad, who typically stay here for three to four years, contribute billions of pounds to our economy (£2.3 billion in London alone), and create hundreds of thousands of jobs—not to mention taking British culture, values and business practices back to their home countries. The Prime Minister should listen to her colleagues and U-turn towards a global, liberal, outward-looking approach to migration.

Today, I wrote for The Telegraph on the same topic. You can read the full article here—and an extract below:

To succeed outside Europe, we'll need to strike up new trade links with China, India and the rest of the world. But as the Government lays the groundwork for post-Brexit trade negotiations, the Prime Minister’s insistence on including overseas students in the net migration target has left our potential trade partners bewildered.

Making it harder to study in Britain not only impoverishes our world-class higher education sector, it also hurts the Scotch distilleries who want to sell to India’s growing middle-class. Indian officials are baffled by attempts to close the door on Indian students.

We are already facing stiffer competition for international students from Asia as they become a bigger player in the market, and President Trump’s wide-ranging crackdown on immigration to America presents the UK with a chance to advertise itself as a prime destination for foreign students considering studying abroad.

The Adam Smith Institute has been talking about this issue for years, and it’s starting to look as though there’s a real possibility of change!