Mayor Ben Houchen has joined Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and England’s five other Metro Mayors in signing a letter, published today in the Financial Times, highlighting the positive impact international students have on the economy.

A total of 1,400 international students study in the Tees Valley which includes Durham University’s International Study Centre in Stockton and Teesside University in Middlesbrough.

Recent research from the Higher Education Policy Institute shows that these students bring a net economic benefit of £203million to the Tees Valley, with those across the UK contributing more than £20billion.

​The letter calls for a post-Brexit immigration system “that acknowledges the vital contribution international students make to regional jobs and growth”. It calls also for a “more open and welcoming message to international students” and for improved post-study work opportunities for qualified international graduates in the UK.

The mayors also penned a letter to the Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, an independent body commissioned to provide evidence and advice to the government on international students.

Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I supported Leave in the EU referendum – as did the vast majority of people in the Tees Valley. But that doesn’t mean we want to pull up the drawbridge. After we leave the EU, we should be attracting the brightest and best to our country, and that’s why I am pleased to put my name to this joint letter.

“International students enhance the Tees Valley in many ways. Alongside the significant financial benefits to the area, they bring welcome diversity and invaluable personal contributions that cannot be measured.

“The purpose of this letter was to call on Government to recognise their positive impact and ensure this beneficial influence on jobs and growth continues following Brexit.

“Tees Valley is open for business and I want to send a very clear message that we will always welcome those who make a positive contribution to our area.”

Teesside University Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor Paul Croney said: “Students from more than 100 countries have graduated from Teesside University’s programmes and we value the immense contribution they make both to our campus life and our wider community.

“Our international students have gone on to enjoy extremely successful careers, spreading the name of Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley across the world.

“Teesside University is proud of its international reputation, our inclusion in the 2018 Times Higher Education World University rankings and the continued positive feedback from our international students.”