Last week saw the publication of some new research conducted by ComRes for Universities UK that examined the British public’s perception of international students. International students have long been included in the UK’s immigration cap, which not only makes it more challenging for them to study in the UK, but many also report that it makes the UK appear ‘less welcoming’ to international students. For many years universities have lobbied Theresa May and the Home Office to remove students from the cap, and this recent research provides evidence to back-up the case.

The highlights were:

  • 81% agreed that international students have a positive impact on the local economies and towns in which they study.
  • Three-quarters of the British public would like to see the same or an increased number of international students in the UK.
  • 91% of British adults believe that international students should be able to stay and work in the UK for a period of time after they have completed their study.

Following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Hobsons’ International Student Survey found that many students said they are less likely to study in the UK as they feel it will be less welcoming to international students. This new research could provide some reassurance that the British public is welcoming and positive about their contribution to society and the UK economy.

To what extent this new research might encourage the UK government to reconsider its stance on international students in the immigration cap remains to be seen, however UK universities can promote such evidence to counter balance some of the negative news articles post-Brexit that may have further damaged the reputation of the UK being a great place to study.

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