Immigration curbs prove controversial for Higher Education
The government has rejected the claim made by British university chancellors that the curb on immigration could deter potential foreign students.
A letter, signed by 68 university chancellors, ministers and presidents, urged the government to take foreign students out of the immigration cap to prevent discouraging them and potentially losing the British economy billions of pounds each year.
Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader and Chancellor of St. Andrews University was a signatory to the letter, which states that Britain attracts around 1 in 10 international students, generating £8 billion per year for the British economy.
Home office ministers have introduced curbs on immigration in an attempt to reduce the number of foreign immigrants entering the country from 240,000 a year to 100,000 by the 2015 election.
However, although Immigration Minister Damien Green rejected the claims that these curbs will deter foreign students, some have argued that the measures will present a hostile environment for students to enter in to. The amount of time that international non-EU students can spend studying in the UK will be limited, along with the amount of hours of paid work that can be done during and after their degrees.
Additionally, students will no longer be allowed to bring spouses or children with them unless they are embarking on a postgraduate course that lasts longer than a year.
Nicholas Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK who circulated the letter, has said however that the “cumulative effect of all these changes is to present a picture of theUKas not welcoming international students.” This comes along with the claim that some universities have already seen their applications fromIndiadrop by a third in the last year.
Green claimed that genuine students should not be put off by the curbs, but that the student visa has been largely abused with 20% of those entering on a student visa remaining in the country 5 years later.
He also urged universities, in what is an important year for the UK in the international community, to “send a clear message that genuine international students are also welcome in, and valued by, the United Kingdom”.