CAMPAIGNERS are warning of the risk of losing millions of pounds brought in to the local economy by foreign students, should people vote to leave Europe in the June 23 referendum.
The warnings have come after figures show that more than 1,000 EU students enrolled at the University of Portsmouth last year, bringing £6m a year to the local economy.
Research conducted by Universities UK found that EU students boosted the south-east economy by £420m and supported 4,021 jobs.
Green MEP Keith Taylor said he welcomed the research as it ‘highlights just how important the UK’s membership of the EU is for the region’s universities and the wider economy.’
He said: ‘This analysis is a timely reminder of just how critical the EU is for young people. For young voters in my constituency, the European Union has delivered £100m in direct funding for universities, allowed thousands of students to study at top European universities and provided significant funding for apprenticeship schemes, amongst many other benefits. For these reasons, I am wholeheartedly committed to Britain remaining in Europe.’
The figures detailed how EU students in the south east contributed £169m to the regional economy through on-campus spending and £251m through spending on regional goods and services off-campus.
The University of Portsmouth saw a two per cent rise on the previous year in the numbers of EU students – and it has another 250 EU students each year on exchange programmes.
Kathryn Land, regional manager in the university’s International Office, said: ‘EU undergraduate students, who make up about three-quarters of the EU student body at Portsmouth, contribute more than £6m a year to Portsmouth’s economy, through paying for local services, including accommodation.
‘EU students are of enormous benefit to Portsmouth. They culturally enrich the city and contribute to the university through a wide range of research projects, fees and by supporting a wide range of courses.’
Across the UK, there are about 125,000 EU students generating a total of £3.7bn for the economy and supporting over 34,000 jobs, the report revealed.
Dame Julia Goodfellow, vice-chancellor of the University of Kent and president of Universities UK, said: ‘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, strengthening our competitors and weakening the UK’s universities.’
However Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt questioned the claims.
She said: ‘It is crazy to suggest that being able to study here is entirely contingent on our membership of the EU, just as it is crazy to suggest trade or security co-operation is contingent on membership. What is valued will endure.’
‘The EU is sacrificing an entire generation of young people, with some nations having more than 60 per cent youth unemployment, due to forced harmonisation in the Eurozone. It is an outrage.’