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Rethink foreign student visas, politicians urge Prime Minister

By River Reporter Jan 31, 2013

Politicians have urged the government to exclude students from immigration targets and encourage more to study in the UK. 

Laura Rietz

Five parliamentary committee chairmen have called on David Cameron to take further action and make international university students study in the UK.

The government restricts net migration — the total number of people including students — leaving the country permanently compared with those moving to the UK.

The chairmen sent the Prime Minister a letter shortly after figures released by UCAS revealed a 9.6 per cent rise in non-EU university applications.

In their letter, the Chairmen said that having more overseas students “has the potential to support economic growth in the longer term, supporting jobs in university towns and increasing earnings.”

Dear David Cameron

The chairmen asked the Prime Minister to “reconcile the remaining tensions between visa policy and aspirations for growth by removing international students from the net migration target.”

Foreign students have to speak a higher standard of English than British citizens to get a visa. Graduates then have to find a job earning £20,000 a year or they have to leave the country. Kingston has over 4,000 international students-one of the highest intakes in the UK. 

Among the authors of the letter are the Labour MPs Keith Vaz, Margaret Hodge and Adrian Bailey.

Negative effect on business

Cross-bench peers Lord Hannay and Lord Krebs also argue that international students who study in the UK build relationships, which last after their course ends.

“Those relationships laid the foundation for future business opportunities in emerging economics, and supporting our foreign policy objectives,” the chairmen added.

On Thursday the House of Lords will debate the effect of immigration policy on UK higher education.

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