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All international students should have the right to work

28 November 2013

Study UK, the UK’s leading association for independent further and higher education institutions and specialist training providers, has responded to a report published today by the thinktank IPPR titled ‘Britain wants you! Why the UK should commit to increasing international student numbers’. The report advises that in an increasingly competitive global market, in which the UK’s education exports industry is estimated to be worth £17.5 billion to the economy, ‘the UK needs to present an attractive, competitive offer to students both during and after their study’. Recommendations on how to improve this offer include working rights for all international students, and not just those at universities and publicly funded colleges as currently.

Sue Hindley, Chair of Study UK, responds to the publication of the report:

“We welcome IPPR’s recommendation to Government to ‘commit unequivocally to increasing the number of international students studying in British education institutions’. In particular, we support their position that ‘the entitlement [to working rights] should be the same regardless of whether the student’s education institution is public or private, further or higher education.' Study UK has campaigned on this issue since working rights were removed from international students at independent providers in 2011, writing to the Minister of State for Immigration and parliamentary committees this year to call for changes. We welcome IPPR’s recognition that all international students bring benefits to the UK education sector and economy, and that we should be making them a competitive offer in return. We hope that the growing consensus on this issue will have an impact on political decision-makers.

We also support IPPR’s position that stricter regulation of education providers must not be allowed to stifle growth in the sector. The report proposes a sliding scale of sanctions so that where weaknesses are identified a Tier 4 sponsor may be placed under review rather than immediately having its licence suspended or revoked, actions which can cause lasting reputational damage. It also recommends ‘reducing audits from every year to every 2-3 years if an institution is consistently performing well’. Study UK has long urged the Home Office to adopt both of these measures as essential elements of a flexible Sponsorship system in which the Government and education sector work together in guarding against abuse. We share IPPR’s vision of a regulatory system that is risk-based and that allows for a constructive partnership and an honest dialogue between education providers and the Home Office.”

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