South West Green MEP Molly Scott Cato has heard how leaving the EU could impact on language schools in Bournemouth when visiting the area last week. Bournemouth is the second choice in the UK for foreign language students outside London.
Molly was told how language students benefit the local economy to the tune of around £200m a year, according to a Bournemouth University impact study. International students paying tuition fees to language schools, staying with host families and spending leisure time in cafes, restaurants and tourist attractions all boost the local economy.
In recent years, however, the number of language students has declined. The high value of the pound, difficulties with visa applications for students outside of the EU and political uncertainty regarding the potential impact of Brexit, are cited as possible reasons for this.
Conor Burns, Conservative MP for Bournemouth West, blames the recent decline in student numbers on the UK’s EU membership. At a recent rally he said that the free movement of people within the EU had forced a clamp down on those outside the EU, ‘so the government could be seen to be doing something about immigration’. A claim dismissed by Molly Scott Cato MEP, who points to the fact that EU students themselves are an important source of business for local language schools. Molly said:
“Not only does Conor neglect to mention the important contribution that EU students make to the local economy, both through attendance at language schools and two highly popular universities in Bournemouth & Poole, but he completely ignores the main issue. It is the Tory Government’s immigration policy and not the EU that is portraying this country as hostile to international students. Some of the language used by Leave campaigners during this referendum campaign has been despicable and only serves to compound this.”
Ahead of the EU referendum in June, Universities UK has released analysis showing that EU students at universities in the UK contribute over £3.7bn to the economy .Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of Universities UK, commented:
“EU students make an enormous contribution to British university life and local communities. Leaving the EU and putting up barriers to work and study makes it more likely that European students and researchers will choose to go elsewhere.”