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London Chamber of Commerce and IndustryLondon Chamber of Commerce and Industry
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LCCI and London Higher Urge Ministers not to Harm London Economy

Thursday 21 March 2024

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and London Higher have called on the Home Secretary and Education Secretary not to harm the London economy by making it difficult for international students to come to the capital.

The intervention by business and universities came after the Home Secretary asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the current Graduate visa route.

Both organisations stated the timescale for the review is too short to allow sufficient and high-quality evidence to be gathered for consideration. We need clear assurances from the Government that stakeholders will have the opportunity to present evidence in a meaningful way, and are therefore calling for the deadline of the review to be extended past 14 May 2024.

LCCI and London Higher are concerned that the terms of reference being used by the commission are misguided and underestimate the due diligence undertaken by universities when approving students. It is our informed belief that the current Graduate route is operating as it was intended, to attract some of the top global minds to the UK to study and contribute to the UK’s research output, the economic competitiveness of higher education institutions, and in turn innovation nationwide.

LCCI and London Higher collectively represent the interests of over 8,000 London businesses and London’s Higher Education institutions. We have highlighted to Ministers a wealth of supporting evidence which reflects the significant economic and cultural contribution made by international students across the UK, and the potential damage of restricting international students. PwC has estimated in a recent report that a 20% drop in international recruitment would leave 80% of universities in deficit.

Both organisations affirm that should the Graduate route be removed or modified, it is essential that alternative polices are put in place to ensure the UK’s higher education institutions “continue to attract the brightest and the best international students”.

Karim Fatehi MBE, Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said:

International students play a pivotal role in the UK's higher education system and subsequently in our nation's economic prosperity. Attracting and retaining international students isn't only about fostering cultural diversity; international students inject billions into the UK economy annually, enrich our academic environment, and fill crucial skill gaps post-graduation. In London alone, international students bring approximately £9.59 billion of net economic gain each year.

“I hope that the Government heeds our calls to extend the review of the Graduate route to give adequate time for stakeholders like ourselves to demonstrate that retaining international talent fosters innovation, competitiveness, and strengthens our global reputation and soft power.”

Dr Diana Beech, Chief Executive Officer of London Higher said:

“London’s higher education sector is as global as it is local, and the 179,000+ international students that come to London’s universities and higher education institutions each year play a huge part in enhancing campus life and maintaining subject choice, as well as providing a vital source of talent to the capital’s businesses and public sector services.

“The rapid review of the Graduate Route announced by the Home Secretary will not do justice to the full range of benefits that international students bring to London and the UK as a whole, and risks damaging the nation’s economic competitiveness as international students consider taking their talents elsewhere. We urge the Government to ensure there is ample time provided for all evidence to be provided and considered.”


For media inquiries, please contact:     

LCCI Press Office
E: press@londonchamber.co.uk
T: +44 (0)20 7203 1897
M: +44 (0) 7767 110632