As the United Kingdom entered the 2015 election year, the national significance of international students became evident in public debate on migration. Theresa May, the political leader in charge of UK national security and a potential leader of the governing political party, proposed to cut net migration by requiring non-European Union (non-EU) university students to depart the United Kingdom once they graduate, and to apply for any further right to study or work from outside the United Kingdom. However, prominent political, business, and community leaders opposed this proposal. They expressed concerns that the United Kingdom could lose its competitiveness in the global market for international education because foreign students could view the United Kingdom as less attractive than other potential study destinations if it became harder for them to access poststudy opportunities there. In addition, restricting the right of non-EU citizens to work in the United Kingdom could reduce UK companies’ access to foreign talent and hurt the United Kingdom’s competitiveness in the global economy more generally.
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