International students make an important economic, social and cultural contribution to our society and Brexit should not be allowed to undermine efforts to attract and retain them, Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has said.
The Party’s Education Spokesperson was commenting after a new report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) concluded that international students contribute £170m to the North’s economy.
“Figures published by Queens University and Ulster University show the significant contribution through fees from international students. Overall this has increased in 2016/17 from 2015/16, which is positive,” she said.
“However, the benefits they bring aren’t just financial. They also make a positive social and cultural contribution so every effort must be made to ensure our universities have the ability to attract international students because we have the potential to bring many more than we currently do.
“Going forward as the implications of Brexit begin to impact, this ability to attract international students and staff will be increasingly important to the universities sector.
“To ensure the continuing success of our university and research sector, ongoing access to all EU funding streams and programmes must be protected and securing Designated Special Status for the north within the EU is the way to achieve this.