Manchester has been called ‘the city of immigrants’ because of the great diversity of its population. Many people from across the world have come to make their future here, starting largely with the cotton industry. Today, up to 200 different languages are spoken across the city region – a fact revealed by a major research programme at our University, ‘Multilingual Manchester’.
In many parts of the world, including the UK, there are concerns around mass migration because of the pressures this places on our infrastructures. These concerns played a part in the outcomes of the recent EU referendum in the UK and in the presidential election in the US.
But our universities, at least those with high reputations, are, and always must be, inherently international. Indeed, the percentage of staff and students from outside the home country is a measure used in global league tables to assess universities’ strengths. Our research is based on global collaborations and international peer review, and it has impact across the world.
International students are especially important to The University of Manchester. There are currently more than 11,000 international students from outside the EU studying with us, from nearly 140 countries, and a further 2,700 from within the EU. Increasingly, our own students spend time studying abroad in Europe and beyond, which provides them with a great experience.
When they return to their home country, international students act as great ambassadors for Manchester and the UK. The stories of our Ugandan alumni on page 2 illustrate how a Manchester education impacts on the wider world. The University of Manchester has contact with more than 350,000 alumni, of which 26% are based outside the UK, including many in leading positions in business, governments and universities. They are invaluable for developing international trade links and wider collaborations.
I attend many alumni events overseas and find our graduates to be enormously proud of our University and the time they spent with us. By the time you read this, I will have travelled to India, where I will have met some of our alumni. I hope to have attracted more students from India to study with us and to have identified opportunities for work placements for our UK students.
Attracting the best minds from overseas to our universities brings economic benefits to the country and our region. Universities UK estimates that international students create more than 170,000 jobs across the UK. International students have been described as a very valuable ‘export’, bringing an estimated £13.6 billion per annum into the UK economy. Independent analysis found that our own international students generated more than 1,100 jobs locally.
However, international students and staff are so much more important to us than money. They bring new experiences and views, and they allow UK students to appreciate diversity and develop a global perspective. They are extremely welcome in the University and our city.
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell - President and Vice-Chancellor.