by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia
A report published on Thursday by the HEPI makes grim reading for the higher education sector in the UK. While the reports highlights there are a number of potential financial benefits to universities from the UK leaving the EU, when proposed visa restrictions are factored in, not only are these reversed, they are completely annihilated to the tune of a potential loss to the wider UK economy of a staggering 2 billion pounds.
We have been reporting [see blog roll] on the various changes to student visa rules for while, noting changes to the right to work post-study and bring dependents since 2012 [under Theresa May, Home Secretary] and the proposed cut of over 55% of higher education student visas alongside a tiered system for universities awarding places to international students [under Theresa May, Prime Minister]. The HEPI report puts some financial backing to the impacts these measures have had so far and will have in the future. The HEPI is respected and reasonably independent and has co-written the report with London Economics and Kaplan International, both big and respected organisations. The data for the report was also provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency – HESA.
In other words, this is a serious report by serious people and it should not be dismissed. Experts are under attack in the media at the moment in a ludicrous attempt to reduce proper argument to shouting matches and control of soundbites in the public domain. Hopefully, the number of heavyweights behind this report will allow it to be given the proper consideration it deserves.
In short, the report highlights that:
- the depreciation of sterling could attract and extra 20,000 non-EU students and although there may also be a 50%+ reduction of ED students the net financial again would be around 180 million pounds.
- More benefit will accrue to top universities than to lower, but benefits should accrue across the sector nevertheless
- the post-graduate sector has seen some benefit from the removal of work-rights after under-graduate degrees [students delaying UK study]
- global economic forces may see increased global GDP benefit UK education enrolment, especially from oil-rich economies.
However, the crucial fact is that extra 20,000 students. If they don’t come because of the immigration politics being played out then they will not offset losses of EU students and the economy will suffer:
“£463 million a year less in tuition fees for higher education institutions;
£604 million a year less in non-tuition fee expenditure; and
£928 million a year less from the detrimental impact on universities’ supply chains (known as ‘the indirect and induced effects’).” [HEPI report]
Surely this is not what Leave voters had in mind last year. It highlights the dangers of simplifying arguments too much. It is not a case of immigrants being a pure cost and drain on the economy and resources. Generally immigrants bring net gains in all areas and these numbers begin to show how.