UK cities make public their support for international students and the Graduate route visa

International students enjoying a walk around Cardiff Market

Study Group warmly welcomes the recommendation of the UK Core Cities group that the UK should recognise the vital contribution of international students and graduates to their host cities and regions through the retention of the Graduate route visa. Core Cities comprises Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield with five of these home to Study Group international study centres working with university partners.

Core Cities shares “our public support for retaining the Graduate Visa Route” with the Migration Advisory Committee, which has been commissioned by the UK government to review various aspects of the visa in the light of the UK International Education Strategy. The consortium made clear, “Students coming to study in our cities from across the globe are a huge asset; bringing over £5bn in net benefits to our city economies, contributing to our diverse communities and helping us to build and foster links to cities and communities around the world… We should be looking to do more to increase the £60bn that has been generated nationally since the opening of the Graduate Route in 2019.”

Core Cities also noted that the impact of international students and graduates goes well beyond economic factors. “It is not just the economic benefits that matter. Our cities are international in their outlook, with over 120 city partnerships and bilateral relationships with cities around the world and home to diverse, international populations. International students play a key role in building our soft power and fertilising these partnerships as we look to work together across nation boundaries in making our cities competitive, inclusive, and great places to live.”

The Core Cities intervention follows a range of other interventions and reports making clear the educational, economic and cultural benefits of welcoming policies for international students including reports by Universities UK, the Universities and Business Council, London Higher and the Higher Education Policy Institute, All Party Parliamentary Group on International Students and former Universities Ministers of both major political parties.

Study Group has supported advocacy for welcoming policy over many years and provided evidence to the current review. The Migration Advisory Committee will report on 14 May 2024.