Comment: International students bring talent to the UK

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, responds to Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Savid Javid's comments on international students.

International students bring talent to the UK

Vice-ChancellorBy Professor Sir Keith Burnett, 10 July 2015.

Sajid Javid, our Secretary of State, has said that international students should not expect to be able to stay for a period after their study.

I am dismayed. I feel we have failed.

Why do I feel that?

We have not been able to convince him that international students bring money and, if they stay, talent to the UK that we would not be able to attract in any other way.

We have not been able to convince him that staying after their studies will build up links with the UK's commercial world that will be invaluable to our industrial colleagues.

We have not been able to convince him that a modest period of work will build an understanding and affection for the UK that billions of pounds of marketing would struggle to create.

We have not been able to convince him that the parents of these students cannot always bear the burden of study in the UK without a period of paid employment.

We have been unable to do this.

We have not been able to convince him that international students bring money and, if they stay, talent to the UK that we would not be able to attract in any other way.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett

I don't want to think of this as political expediency.

I want to think that our new Secretary of State is a man who looks across the needs of the UK and sees the benefit.

What can I do?

I know in my heart that our international students bring to us a bounty that is more than money or any simple expressed benefit.

Do you feel that too? Have you seen the picture of the lives that we have changed for the better?

For I have to come clean with you. I love our international students and what they do for our universities and our country. This is a move that we shall live to regret.