An export to take pride in
As a Brit, I find some of our principal exports a national shame. We are world-leaders in armaments and in financial services. The latter are not all bad, but much of them are substantially parasitic on the productive economy.
So I’m cheered by today’s news: high net immigration, together with lots of student visas. It indicates we’re successfully exporting education. Assuming a large proportion of it is legitimate higher education, it suggests the huge expansion we’ve had in the sector isn’t just dilution and dumbing-down.
In the longer term, education should have a neutral effect on net immigration. That is to say, the number of students arriving to study should balance the number leaving after completing their studies. A big rise in numbers therefore indicates a real expansion, and is probably due to the fall in sterling making UK costs a whole lot more competitive for foreign students.
Let’s hope our universities are building on their export success to expand their net capacity as centres of excellence.