Comment: Response to spending review commitment to increase international student numbers

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, has welcomed the government commitment outlined in the recent spending review to encourage students from outside the European Union to attend English universities.

The government:

  • expects a rise of 55,000 of these students by 2020
  • will allow dependents of postgraduates to work in the UK
  • intends to maintain current English language requirements.

Response to the commitment to increasing numbers of international students outlined in the spending review

By Professor Sir Keith Burnett CBE FRS FLSW, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield

"This is fantastic news for the UK. Our industries rely on strong researchers in universities and great people from across the world who are passionate about science and engineering. But it is also great news for businesses, who look for talented people with remarkable backgrounds, regardless of their nationality.

"It is vital that universities remain truly global. Any plans to make life more welcoming and supportive for international students and postgraduates can only be an asset for the UK. These are people that will boost our economy and improve the quality of our research.

"The University of Sheffield launched our #weareinternational campaign to identify support in the UK for the international student community. We were overwhelmed by the support we received from our students, as well as those from more than 100 universities, the CBI, the NUS, Universities UK and the UK Council for International Student Affairs. We want to thank them for the way they enthusiastically welcomed the initiative and endorse the government's new, substantial efforts to increase the number of international students studying in the UK. Universities are international communities and thrive on stimulating new challenges and inclusive ways of thinking which people from overseas bring in abundance."