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International students crucial to UK graduates’ prospects

AGCAS has warned that a government clampdown on the sort of work international students are allowed to do while in the UK will affect the experience UK universities can offer both international and home-based students. It would also impact upon the job prospects of UK students and the economy as a whole.

Impact on universities, courses and employers

A recent survey (A UK Guide to Enhancing the International Student Experience, produced by i-graduate for the UK HE International Unit) showed that for over 90% of students from China, India, Malaysia and Pakistan, the opportunity to gain work experience while, and immediately after, studying is a major reason for coming to the UK. Without this chance to gain the practical skills and experience that they need to be competitive when they return home, a significant number will look elsewhere.

Many higher education programmes, especially in fields such as engineering, science and business, are only viable because of the revenue that international students bring with them. Without this income, many university courses will close, causing a shortage of places for home-based students in strategically important subjects and, in the longer term, skills shortages in areas of huge importance to the UK economy. AGCAS believes that job losses would result, not only in the HE sector, but far beyond it.

Impact on home students and the UK as a whole

UK students undoubtedly benefit greatly from studying and working alongside talented young people from around the world. It is essential for their employability that they are able to demonstrate an understanding of other cultures and the ability to work collaboratively with peers from other countries. These are the skills and attributes that UK and international employers now demand, and which the UK's globally-renown universities currently provide.

Anne-Marie Martin, AGCAS President and Director of The Careers Group, University of London, said:

'Higher education careers services work closely with employers from a wide range of sectors who look to UK universities for the talent their businesses need in this country and globally. They all tell us how crucial it is for potential recruits to be able to demonstrate cultural awareness, alongside other employability skills and knowledge. University careers services have taken this message on board and are helping both international and UK students not only develop key skills alongside their academic study, but also to sell what they have learnt to potential employers. We are preparing students for a labour market which will be increasingly global.'

Margaret Dane, AGCAS CEO, said:

'AGCAS is far from alone in being concerned about any measures which would make it less attractive for international students to come to the UK. Some people, perhaps, assume that fewer international students would mean more jobs for UK students. However, all the evidence points the other way. There would be a negative impact across the board – including on UK graduates and businesses.'

Tags: international students i-graduate China india malaysia pakistan work experience student immigration

Created on: 24 March 2011

Last updated: 27 March 2011

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