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International Students

Volume 620: debated on Monday 23 January 2017

14. What representations she has received on the economic value to the UK of international students studying at universities. (908291)

The Government recognise that international students make an important contribution during their time here and help to make our education system one of the best in the world. We are in regular contact with the sector, and there is no limit on the number of genuine international students who can come here to study in the UK.

International students bring academic and cultural benefits to our universities, contribute billions of pounds to the economy, support the creation of tens of thousands of jobs and enable these institutions to innovate, build links with businesses and invest even more in every student in every region and country of the UK. Will the Minister assure the House that the Government have no plans to reduce the number of international students coming to every UK university, and tell us what steps they will take to increase numbers?

I agree with the hon. Lady absolutely. As I mentioned, there is no limit on the number of students who can come here. Since 2010, we have seen a 17% increase in the number of university applications from outside the EU, while the Russell Group has seen an amazing 47% increase.

The whole House knows that it is vital to maintain our global reputation as an open and fair place to study, but in mid-December last year the Home Office lost a major test case against international students. The Home Office claimed that the students had made bogus claims about English language skills. What were the total legal costs in this test case against Sharif Majumder? How many other cases were initiated and had to be dropped? What estimate has been made of the potential liability arising from students who were deported on the basis of evidence-free claims, but might now have a right to sue for wrongful deportation?

I am slightly surprised that the hon. Lady has the brass neck to refer to bogus students in bogus colleges. We had to take away the sponsorship licence from 920 colleges that were recruiting students to take bogus courses. I will certainly get back to her in writing if I can provide some of the information she asked for specifically on that legal case.