HEPI has undertaken a small piece of desk research which reveals that 55 world leaders (Presidents, Prime Ministers and monarchs) from 51 countries attended higher-level education in the UK.

Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), said:

‘The Home Office wants to restrict the number of foreigners coming to study here while other parts of Government recognise the economic benefits. It is a straight fight pitching security against economics. That’s a tragedy because all sorts of other advantages are being ignored.

‘We punch above our weight internationally partly because of the soft power benefits that arise from educating the world’s leaders. It is staggering that 55 world leaders should have studied in a country of the UK’s size, yet we benefit enormously from the fact that they did.

‘The competition for international students is much fiercer than it used to be and we risk being left behind. As the declining number of students coming to the UK from places like India makes clear, we are currently damaging our links to parts of the world with which the UK’s history has long been intertwined.

‘There’s a patriotic as well as an internationalist case for teaching people from around the world. We forget it at our peril.’

Notes for Editors

1. The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) undertook desk research in September 2015 analysing the education of world leaders (defined as monarch, prime minister or president) and found 55 who had undertaken higher education in the UK from 51 countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bahrain, Botswana, Brunei, Colombia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt, Fiji, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jordan, Kiribati, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, São Tomé and Príncipe, Singapore, Syria, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Yemen, plus three places where sovereignty is contested – Palestine, Kosovo and Somaliland). Other global leaders who have studied UK higher education qualifications include Robert Mugabe and Paul Kagame, who undertook distance learning, but these are not included.

2. Other HEPI research published earlier in 2015 found that students and higher eduction applicants believe there are benefits from studying as part of a diverse student body (http://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/HEApaper7_web.pdf and http://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/What-do-prospective-students-think-about-international-students.pdf).

3. Finding out the education of all world leaders is not always an easy task. So, if you spot any errors, please email n.hillman@hepi.ac.uk or leave a comment below.