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Coventry’s economy ‘faces huge hit’ due to government clamp down on student visas

Coventry could lose large chunks of the more than £150 million it gains from international students as the government looks to further cut their numbers.

Economic data shows each parliamentary constituency in the UK is £58m better off because of international students. Coventry has three constituencies, and its two universities are major recruiters of students from overseas.

But that important part of the city’s economy, which supports large parts of the city centre, is under threat as the government seeks to control immigration by cutting student numbers, the university says.

Restrictions on some student visas and political rhetoric have been blamed for a 40% year-on-year drop in international student recruitment at English universities in January’s intake.

And the government is now examining the possibility of restricting or closing the Graduate Route visa, which allows highly educated Post-Graduate students to work in the UK for a limited time after they have completed their studies.

The Home Office has asked the Migration Advisory Committee to quickly review the visa, with a report expected to be released on Tuesday 14 May.

University leaders are pointing to new data that shows every student on the Graduate Route visa brings a net benefit of £1,240 each to the UK economy.

Professor John Latham CBE, Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Coventry University Group says the government action is putting a “big dent in the city’s economy” at a time when it is already facing big cuts to its public services:

“The government is causing significant economic harm to communities like Coventry for the sake of chasing a few misguided headlines,” he said.

“There is a perception that international students are a burden on the economy but the opposite is true as they spend money here and do not use many public services.

“We have already seen a huge drop in January’s intake which is having an enormous impact on our finances and will soon start to put a big dent in the city’s economy. We are a major employer and support lots more jobs indirectly and international students spend a lot of money in the city centre. Further changes to student visas will cause greater harm.

“Coventry University Group will be OK, we can adjust and have cash reserves to give us the time to do that. We are having to accelerate a shift to teaching students outside of England – as we are already doing with branch and badged campuses in Egypt, Morocco and China, with negotiations underway for more in Kazakhstan and India and several other countries. However, those campuses won’t benefit the Coventry economy.

“There is also a perception that international students take the place of UK students but that is simply not true for Coventry. The truth is that for most universities, the higher fees of international students are supporting the education of UK students so it isn’t just universities that need international students, we all do if we have an interest in UK students getting a quality education, or want to see thriving local economies and communities.”

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