Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for the Home Department commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) last Thursday, 24 August, to examine the impact of both EU and non-EU students on the labour market and economy of the UK.

The commissioning letter asks the MAC to consider the impact of tuition fees and other spending by international students on both local and national economy and the education sector; the role students play in local economic growth; and the impact of their recruitment on the provision and quality of education provided to domestic students. The letter also highlights that it is the Government’s intention to continue to attract international students in the UK, while also being “committed to reducing net migration to sustainable levels”.

The commissioning of the report comes on the same day as the publishing of the statistics for international students with Tier 4 visas, collected under the exit checks programme. It is reported that more than 96% of Tier 4 visa holders depart in time after their visa has expired in 2016/17. This report was followed by criticism against the Government for inclusion of international students in the immigration statistics and use of inaccurate data to create immigration policy.

The commissioning letter also stated that current EU students and those starting courses at a university or Further Education institution in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic years, will continue to be eligible for student support and home fee status for the duration of their course. The Home Secretary also committed to defending those students’ parallel right to remain in the UK.

The commissioning of this report comes amidst a discussion of what protection EU students should be given post-Brexit and how that will impact the education sector. The MAC is expected to report by September 2018.