Oxford University have said they are “encouraged by the Home Secretary’s comments” regarding a reassessment of the inclusion of overseas students in net migration figures.
Earlier this week, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said that he would “like to look at again” the policy that includes international students within the government’s drive to reduce net migration into the UK, admitting that he did “empathise” with the view that it did not give a welcoming impression.
An Oxford University spokesperson told Cherwell: “Oxford has always maintained that the very best international universities are those that are able to attract and recruit the very best students, wherever they come from.
“We have lobbied the government not to enact policies that will be detrimental to world-class universities. We are encouraged by the Home Secretary’s comments this week and look forward to hearing more detail from him.”
General secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), Sally Hunt, said it was “encouraging” that Javid “appears to recognise how unwelcoming our current policy is”.
“However, we need that policy looked at again as a priority,” she added. “Our universities’ international student recruitment is a huge success story because overseas students are attracted by the quality of higher education available. International students make an enormous contribution to UK higher education both educationally and economically.
“Sajid Javid should take the lead on this and support universities by committing to remove international students from the net migration target altogether.”
Universities UK (UUK), the representative organisation for the UK’s universities, also welcomed Mr Javid’s comments. A spokesperson said: “Removing students from the net migration target would be a positive policy change as part of a package of measures to signal that the UK is a welcoming destination for international students. We welcome the home secretary’s commitment to review this issue.”
Hollie Chandler, senior policy analyst at the Russell Group, added that while “there is no limit on the number of international students who can come to the UK, including them in the target is unhelpful and sends the wrong message to prospective students abroad”.
Oxford’s Migration Observatory has published research showing that the majority of the public tend not to think of students when they think about migration, despite students representing the largest group of migrants coming to the UK.