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Chinese students have designs on UK fashion schools

Mark Hilton, Head of Immigration Policy at London First comments on new figures showing that record numbers of Chinese students are moving to London to study fashion, design, music and film, according to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

While this influx is great news, sadly it is happening in spite of the UK’s policies towards international students, not necessarily because of them.

The importance of encouraging foreign students to the UK should not be underestimated – this is the country’s eighth biggest export industry, valued at £8 billion.

But the welcome rise in Chinese students masks a worrying decline in our traditional markets, with the number of Indian students, in particular, falling sharply.

We have two serious problems: firstly damaging political rhetoric about immigration makes international students worry whether they are welcome.

Secondly, in order to hit its immigration targets, the Government has included international students in its annual figure because they are one of the few groups coming to the UK from outside the EU that can be controlled in terms of numbers.

The UK needs to be very careful not to kill a goose that keeps laying golden and, it seems, increasingly fashionable eggs.

Read more about our work on immigration

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