In this second debate of the day Lord Bilimoria stresses the contribution of foreign students to UK universities and their contribution of £25 billion to the UK economy. He notes the uncertainty they currently face and the effect that this uncertainty will have on the UK economy. He concludes by asking the Government to take this matter seriously.

Higher Education and Research Bill

06 March 2017

Moved By Lord Carrington:

Discussion of amendments

53: Clause 15, page 9, line 19, at end insert—

“(3A) The principles must include principles applicable to an unincorporated designated institution.(3B) In subsection (3A)—(a) “unincorporated designated institution” means a designated institution which is not a corporate body;(b) “designated institution” has the same meaning as in section 129A(10) of the Education Reform Act 1988.”

Lord Bilimoria:

My Lords, I have spoken before in this context as chancellor of the University of Birmingham, chair of the advisory board of the Cambridge Judge Business School and an alumnus of Harvard Business School. However, years ago, when I was qualifying as a chartered accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, I spent a year at what is now the London Metropolitan University, where I would later spend time as a visiting professor. I want to draw an analogy. In 2012, the London Metropolitan University lost its right to recruit international students. At that time there were 2,700 international students with valid visas, who had come here in good faith. They were given 60 days to find a place at another institution. That not only jeopardised their lives and futures but jeopardised and placed in crisis an institution with 30,000 students and 2,000 staff. That has implications for not only the institution but international students—as I know as the president of UKCISA, the UK Council for International Student Affairs.

Today, Universities UK has released a report showing that there are almost 450,000 students in the UK, of which almost 130,000 are from the European Union. The contribution they make to the British economy in gross terms—what they spend directly and indirectly— is £25 billion. With Brexit coming up, the uncertainty for international students, let alone EU students, is already there. It is not right that they have the added uncertainty that if, for whatever reason, the institution they join fails, they will be left high and dry. It will affect our economy and our ability to recruit international students. As it is, we have immigration rules that are against international students, which we will talk about later on Report.

I urge the Government to take this measure very seriously. It will give security to our domestic students and it is important for our international students and our reputation around the world

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