This paper sets out the Scottish Government’s response to the call for evidence launched by the UK Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on the impacts of international students in the UK.
International students have an overwhelmingly positive impact on Scotland’s economy and society. They play a vital role in making Scotland an outward-looking country, enhancing its skills base and building connections with the wider world. We extend a warm welcome to those coming to study in Scotland and hope that many will continue to choose to live here.
International students make a valuable contribution to educational institutions and the wider economy. They support the range and quality of education provision in Scotland by creating a multicultural learning environment and ensuring the sustainability of some courses.
Furthermore, international students support Scotland’s reputation and visibility overseas and are a potentially valuable longer-term resource for Scotland’s workforce. Inward migration is essential for the Scottish economy given the demographic challenges that Scotland faces. International students represent a future pool of talented individuals who can be drawn into the workforce.
The profile of international students at Scottish institutions is different to that of the UK as a whole, with different consequences for the immediate economic, social and cultural impact that they have on their institutions and local communities during their period of study. The potential that they offer to Scotland in terms of longer term migration and economic and social value is also more significant when seen in the light of Scotland’s particular demographic and economic challenges.
The Scottish Government encourages the Migration Advisory Committee to recognise the heightened beneficial impact of international students to Scotland relative to the rest of the UK; and to recommend that the UK Government acknowledges the broad consensus across academia, industry and political parties for the need for a migration system that is more conducive to attracting and retaining international students in Scotland.