The proposed cap on immigration from outside the EU will not be enough for David Cameron to keep his promise to reduce net migration from 196,000 to tens of thousands by 2015, MPs have said.
The Prime Minister has pledged an annual limit to cut immigration but the Home Affairs Select Committee found that even if visas were refused to all economic migrants taking up job offers or seeking work from outside Europe, numbers would fall by less than 20%.
MPs said if the Government wants to hit its target it will need to look at other routes, including international students who account for around 25% of long-term immigration each year.
A committee spokesman said MPs were concerned the annual limit, due to start next year, “not only will make little difference to immigration overall, it may also damage the UK’s knowledge economy”.
Its report added that there were serious and widespread concerns the proposed cap will “hamper businesses, prevent top-class international professionals from coming to the UK and damage the UK’s ability to recruit the most distinguished scientists into universities and highly talented individuals into UK companies and public services”.
Universities UK, which represents the views of vice-chancellors, welcomed the report.
Chief executive Nicola Dandridge said: “World-class research requires world-class people, and we simply can’t adopt a fortress Britain attitude.
“Unless we are able to bring in world-leading researchers, the extraordinary international quality of UK research will plummet.”
Terry John, chairman of the British Medical Association’s international committee, said: “The UK relies on doctors from outside the EU to fully staff the NHS.”
The interim cap has already made it more difficult for employers to secure sufficient sponsorship certificates to meet their needs, he said, and a permanent cap was “likely to make the problem worse”.
Former and now shadow immigration minister Phil Woolas described the cap as “the worst of both worlds,” adding: “It doesn’t control immigration but it does damage our economy and universities.”
But Home Office minister Damian Green insisted the limit on work visas was just one of the ways the Government planned to reduce net migration.
“Britain will remain open for business and we will continue to attract and retain the brightest and the best people who can make a real difference to our economic growth.” he said.
This week the Government announced a higher than expected cap on university tuition fees for resident students of £9,000. Source: Sky News.
Overseas students on student visas already pay full fees for their UK education and are not affected by the changes.
The funding changes highlight Britain’s need for non-EU overseas students, which are worth some £8 billion to the UK economy.
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