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Ein cyf/Our ref LN/05377/24

The Rt Hon James Cleverly MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department
Home Office
2 Marsham Street

May 2024 

Dear Secretary of State for the Home Department,

I am writing to you, as Cabinet Secretary for Education, regarding the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) rapid review of the graduate route. 

The MAC have conducted a thorough review of the available data and should be commended for their professionalism and efforts to engage with the Devolved Governments and key stakeholders during the short time frame afforded for the review.

My colleague Lesley Griffiths AS/MS, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Social Justice, with portfolio responsibility for planned migration is writing to you separately, highlighting how changes to the UK Government’s immigration visa system, cannot be made with no prior consultation with Devolved Governments or assessments of the impact these changes could have on devolved nations.

As clearly acknowledged by the MAC, although higher education is a fully devolved matter, higher education providers across the UK are reliant upon international student fees in the same way. It is therefore imperative that there is meaningful engagement and involvement in the consideration and implementation of the MAC recommendations, which I support in their entirety.

Decisive action is now needed to draw an end to the damaging rhetoric around international students emanating from UK Government and supporters over recent months. The uncertainty over the future of the graduate route has already negatively impacted international student numbers, damaging the sector’s financial stability.  

Given the impact of fluctuations in international student fees on university finances it is imperative that stability to the migration policy is realised. Without stability, it is very difficult for our higher education sector who are already experiencing significant financial pressures including higher pay and pension costs, inflation, and the failure of the UK Government to recompensate losses from EU funding, to effectively plan their business models.

Here in Wales, we highly value our higher education sector and our international students and are very concerned how UK Government actions have damaged the social, educational and economic benefits they both provide. 

I am copying this letter to Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Social Justice AS/MS, Minister for Social Care.

Yours sincerely 

Lynne Neagle AS/MS
Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros Addysg
Cabinet Secretary for Education