International Higher Education Students Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Department for Education
Tuesday 21st March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Morgan Portrait Lord Morgan (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, is it not lamentable—

Lord Storey Portrait Lord Storey (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, does the Minister agree that we should have a diverse international student population in our universities, and is she not concerned that, of the 590,000 non-EU students, those from China, India and Nigeria dominate? Is she concerned about the 120,000 Chinese students and maybe their effect on security?

Lord Morgan Portrait Lord Morgan (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, is it not lamentable—

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, it is not just international students who are important to our universities but international research funding. In this context, does the Minister agree with the analysis that shows that, in the two oldest universities in this country, Oxford and Cambridge—I declare an interest as a retired Oxford professor—funding from the European Union has fallen from £130 million a year to £1 million a year? What is the Government’s assessment of the impact of this loss of £129 million a year, and what are the Government going to do about it?

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Morgan Portrait Lord Morgan (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, is it not—

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Portrait Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, would my noble friend care to reflect on the fact that in Scotland, which has St Andrews as the oldest university, the failure of the Scottish Government to have tuition fees for Scottish students has meant that there are no places for Scottish students, and the universities are having to raise the money by having more international students, at the expense of youngsters in Scotland?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I cannot really comment on the experience of youngsters in Scotland. I can say that, from our perspective in England, we believe that the presence of international students is a great source of soft power for the nation—both those in our universities here and the more than 500,000 students who study in British universities overseas.

None Portrait Noble Lords
- Hansard -

Hurrah!

Lord Morgan Portrait Lord Morgan (Lab)
- Hansard - -

I am deeply grateful to the House for its delayed courtesy.

It is surely lamentable that the number of university students from, particularly, European universities, has declined in department after department. I know from my experience how enormously enriching the Erasmus scheme, for example, was. It was invented by a fellow Welshman, Hywel Ceri Jones, and we are deeply grateful for it. Furthermore, as has been said, university students from elsewhere contribute enormously to the local economy in a variety of ways. Can we not try to reverse this trend by a very much more European-focused policy in our universities, in the hope of restoring what has been lost, perhaps never to return?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am not sure that I agree entirely with the noble Lord. We are interested in a diversity of students from different parts of the world. I am not clear from the noble Lord’s question what is particular about European students. All our international students bring cultural diversity. We welcome students from Europe as we welcome students from all parts of the world, and all contribute enormously to our economic well-being.