The outbreak of Coronavirus has focused attention on the reliance on China amongst many UK industries and universities. According to recent analysis, more than a third of non-EU students are now from China. By way of comparison, Commonwealth admissions have been in decline, despite the strong cultural and historical ties.
Moreover, the debate on the UK’s membership of the EU has overshadowed the UK’s commitment to collaborating with Commonwealth nations. Unlike the EU, the Commonwealth institution is a much looser collection of independent sovereign nations,which nevertheless have focused on shared goals such as human rights, climate change and the promotion of peace and democracy. This community of nations now represents a third of the world’s entire population, with some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Indeed, growing up in Pakistan, as a child of the Commonwealth myself, I have always been
aware of how much we have in common, from English language through to driving on the left, from our education and legal institutions to our love of cricket!
In this context, the UK Government’s U-turn on international student work visas is to be welcomed, even though it is a case of ‘back to the future’ in that it restores the position that existed before Mrs May was in charge.