University of Leicester’s Chair of Council urges Prime Minister to review approach to international students

Posted by pt91 at May 30, 2012 01:15 PM |
Roger Bettles backs call for international university students to be removed from net migration statistics for policy purposes

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 30 May 2012

University of Leicester’s Chair of Council, Roger Bettles, has put his name to a letter to the prime minister signed by nearly 70 UK university chancellors and chairs of council, urging the government to support the UK’s universities in their efforts to recruit genuine international students.

The letter has been signed by business leaders, peers from all major parties and other prominent figures from the arts and media in their roles as chancellors or chairs of universities (see letter below and attached).

Signatories to the letter include former Conservative minister Baroness Bottomley (Virginia Bottomley), writer and broadcaster, Lord Bragg (Melvyn Bragg), former Director-General of the CBI, Sir Richard Lambert and former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Menzies Campbell MP.

They are backing calls for international university students to be removed from net migration statistics for policy purposes, bringing the UK into line with our major competitors. They are urging the government to make a clear distinction between temporary and permanent migration in order to help the UK maintain its position as a world-leader in international higher education and send out the message that the UK welcomes, and values, genuine international students.

The UK continues to have one of the strongest higher education systems in the world and universities can play a considerable part in driving the UK’s economic growth. Countries such as the US and Australia have recognised the potential in this growth area and are taking active steps to attract international students, broadcasting very different messages to the world than the UK.

The letter states: “In an age of increasing global mobility, the number of individuals considering a university education abroad is growing rapidly. In this market for talent – and export income – the UK performs exceptionally well, with 9.9% of the total market share in 2009, and export earnings of £7.9 billion. International students also play an important role in towns and cities up and down the country, and contribute significantly to local economies. There is a clear opportunity to build on this success, with forecasts suggesting that export earnings from this activity could more than double by 2025.”

Richard Taylor, Director of Corporate Affairs at the University of Leicester, said: “International education is a vital UK export industry. In scale, it is as big an export as food and twice as large as clothing. The millions of pounds international students spend in Leicester in each year is of significant benefit to the regional economy.”


  1. A chancellor is the lay head of the university. The role is largely ceremonial, for example, the chancellor presides at degree congregations but may have other non-executive functions.
  1. A university’s Council is the institution’s governing body and the Chair is elected by the Council’s lay members.
  1. The letter from nearly 70 university Chancellors and Chairs of Council to the prime minister, Rt Hon David Cameron MP, was sent on Tuesday 29 May 2012. Signatories include: former Conservative minister, Baroness Virginia Bottomley (Chancellor of the University of Hull and Governor of the London School of Economics) and Lord Tugendhat (Chancellor, University of Bath);  Labour peers Lord Melvyn Bragg  (Chancellor of the University of Leeds);  Sir Richard Lambert, former Director-General of the CBI and ex-editor of the FT (Chancellor; of the University of Warwick);  actor Sir Patrick Stewart OBE (Chancellor, University of Huddersfield) and Sheila Hancock OBE (Chancellor, University of Portsmouth); Greg Dyke, former Director-General of the BBC (Chancellor, the University of York).
  1. A full list of signatories and the text of the letter can be found on the UUK website.
  1. Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK’s universities. Founded in 1918, its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, providing high quality leadership and support to its members to promote a successful and diverse higher education sector. With 134 members and offices in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh, it promotes the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally.

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