[This article originally appeared in City AM on Friday 1 March]
But could these two facts be related? Well, yes. The reduction in migration largely reflects a fall in the number of foreign students. And how do foreign students show up in the national accounts? As UK exports, of course. The Department for Business estimated that in 2008-09, education exports were worth roughly £15bn. And that’s not just tuition fees, nor does it just benefit the education sector. If an Indian student buys a Marks and Spencer’s ready meal in Sheffield, that’s a UK export to India: real money, generating jobs and growth, and improving the trade balance.