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UCU comments on opinion poll showing public support for international students

14 October 2016 | last updated: 17 October 2016

Commenting on a new opinion poll on international students, UCU said today that common sense has prevailed amongst the British public who can see the huge benefits international students bring to UK higher education and to our university towns and cities.

The Comres poll, commissioned by Universities UK, found that just a quarter (24%) of British adults think of international students as immigrants. Of those that expressed a view, 75% say they would like to see the same number, or more, international students coming to the UK, a figure which jumped to 87% once information on the economic benefits of international students was provided.

The poll also revealed that the overwhelming majority of the British public (91%) 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.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'This survey shows that common sense has prevailed amongst the British public who can clearly see the huge benefits international students bring to our universities and to the towns and cities where they live.

'The public recognises these students are highly skilled individuals who can go on to contribute to our economy after finishing their studies. As a government report published yesterday shows, only 1% of international students break the terms of their visa by refusing to leave the country after their course ends.

'The Prime Minister cannot see the wood for the trees when it comes to international students in UK higher education. Recent proposals to limit international students to the 'best' universities and courses are misguided and should be withdrawn. Her government needs to take a very different approach and support universities and local economies by removing international students from the net migration target altogether.'