University and Students’ Union urge MPs to support early day motion on international students

The University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union are urging MPs to support the new Early Day Motion (EDM) on international students which raises concerns about current government policies having a negative impact on UK universities and the economy.

internationALFLAGUniversity of Sheffield Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, and Students’ Union International Officer, Jose Diaz De Aguilar, are leading the call for MPs to back the motion in Parliament which was tabled by Paul Blomfield, Sheffield MP, along with cross party support.

The motion calls for the government to remove international students from net migration targets and highlights the concerning drop in the number of overseas students enrolling at UK universities.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett said: “We are deeply concerned that the UK should not alienate international students who are so crucial to our University, city and nation. Without our international students and staff, the UK would not have the tremendous record it does for education, science and engineering. Our international students are our colleagues and friends, and learning in a global university context is an experience which enriches all students and prepares them to work across national boundaries to address the great challenges of our age.”

“Even purely on grounds of enlightened self-interest, UK students make a crucial contribution to our country. Nationally the UK is a world-leader when it comes to international higher education and we now have an industry worth £7 billion a year to the UK economy. More than 136,000 British jobs can be attributed to the enrolment of non-EU international students.

“Yet despite such clear benefits and our proud traditions as a nation and region which welcomes and supports international students, official figures have shown that the UK higher education sector as a whole experienced two consecutive years of falling overseas entrants.”

He added: “The number of Indian students commencing courses in the UK almost halved in two years, and the number of international entrants to STEM courses, which supply UK businesses with important skills, fell by ten per cent.

The University of Sheffield has more than 6,000 talented international students from 116 countries across the world. Since 2013 the University has led the way in supporting international students with the pioneering #Weareinternational campaign which is now supported by more than 100 UK universities and colleges, the British Council and the Home Office.

International Officer, Jose Diaz De Aguilar, said: “What we want is for the government to realise how important international students are to the UK in so many ways, and to not to be targeted by net migration figures.

“We appreciate the effort of putting forward the motion and urge all MPs to support it as the government’s current approach to policies affecting international students is completely wrong.

“The motion is a very welcome and vital first step, but there is so much more to do.”

So far more than 30 MPs have backed the EDM which recognises the enormous cultural, academic and economic contribution that international students studying at UK universities make to the country.

The motion recognises that the public does not generally view international students to be ‘migrants’ and does not wish to see their number reduced and urges the government to exclude university students from efforts to bear down on immigration by removing them from any targets to reduce net migration.

To view 739 Early Day Motion in full please visit

Additional information:

The University of Sheffield
With almost 26,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.
In 2014 it was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.
Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.
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For further information please contact:
Amy Pullan
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9859