A member of the Cabinet, or executive, has openly criticised his own Government’s immigration policy, warning that public “panic” over immigration is causing economic harm to the UK, the Independent reports today.
Business Secretary and Liberal Democrat MP said overseas students were being deterred from studying at British institutions and tight visa controls were causing difficulties for foreign experts working in the country.
Wow, really? These Ministers are very intelligent!
The outspoken Minister said foreign students were being caught up in the “very torrid and emotional” argument about the number of immigrants in the UK.
Cable insisted there was no cap on the number of overseas students but there was a problem of perception.
Addressing the Global Universities Summit in Westminster, he said the debate over immigration “does incubate these very deep emotional feelings about foreigners”.
Highlighting problems with the visa regime, he said: “I was at one of our leading engineering companies a few months ago.
“I was introduced to the chief engineer, who was making the most sophisticated engines for Formula 1 cars and he happened to be Indian, and he was coming to the end of his visa and under the existing rules he was going to have to go back to India and reapply for admission to the UK, right in the middle of a high-pressure contract. It was completely absurd.
“But that is the kind of restriction that is introduced in order to placate public panic that does create an economic harm.”
Migrants will be saying: “Welcome to the real world Mr Cable!”
Unfortunately for the UK flat lining economy, Cable is a lone voice in the wilderness. Prime Minister David Cameron wants net migration fall to the “tens of thousands” by 2015 – at any cost, as this is about the only thing, other than the economy being turned around, which will get the Conservatives get re-elected.
Official figures released last week showed that in the year to September 2012 net migration fell, with a 22% decrease in the number of valuable fee paying foreign students and a loss of billions to the UK economy.
Due to the fact that overseas students were counted as ‘immigrants’ under international rules, Mr Cable said their number was “easily translated into a flood of immigrants”.
He added: “When, last week, the number declines, this is a great triumph for immigration control, which is quite absurd and unfortunately is seriously distorting the debate on sensible university policy and, indeed, sensible immigration policy.
“I just want to make absolutely clear, as far as the Government is concerned we have no cap on the number of overseas students, we don’t propose to introduce one.”
He acknowledged there was a “serious problem” of “perception” which had been caused by the Government’s immigration restrictions, particularly in India.
“In India there has been a quite vigorous criticism of the UK, largely I think following the debate in British newspapers and treating that as if it was objective reality, which it isn’t necessarily,” Mr Cable said.
“In some of the Indian vernacular newspapers the message has gone out that the British no longer want Indian students, which is wrong but that’s the message that has gone out.”
There had been a “substantial” reduction in the number of Indian students as a result, he added.
Mr Cable’s concerns about a reduction in foreign students were echoed by London Mayor Boris Johnson at the same event.
Mr Johnson said: “I looked at the recent figures for foreign students coming to this country and I do not regard what seemed to me to be a reduction in those numbers as necessarily a positive economic indicator. (In plain English, Boris is saying that reducing student numbers is a bad thing).
“I think we need to push higher education as a great, great international export and we need to be even more open in our dealings with other HE institutions around the world.”
Immigration Matters Comment
Vince Cable is on the right track in saying that people are being put off from coming to the UK to study or work, but his remarks insult the intelligence of Indian and other foreign students.
There is no misguided ‘perception’ that Indian students are not as welcome as they have been in the past, it is perfectly clear from the evidence that the UK does not want them! It is his perception which is clearly wrong.
You only have to look at they way Indian, as well as Pakistani and Bangladeshi, students are being treated by Entry Clearance Officers (ECO’s) when applying for a ‘POINTS BASED’ Tier 4 student visa. The idea of a points based system was to remove subjective decision making by ECO’s and for applications to be decided on the basis on the number of points scored.
However, under instruction from the Home Office, ECO’s are ignoring British Council English test results and instead running their own unqualified English assessments – firing off incomprehensible questions through a plate glass window in a regional accent – which inevitably leads to a high refusal rate in those countries.
Student loses money, travels hundreds of miles back to their town or village and tells everyone exactly how they have been treated.
Perception or fact and actual experience?
Migrants and students around the world have also witnessed a torrent of Immigration Rule changes and action designed to deter immigration and students:
- Abolition post study work visa
- Abolition of overseas Highly Skilled Tier 1 visa
- Tier 2 reforms making it almost impossible for graduates to find an employer
- Hundreds of private colleges closed by UK Border Agency
- Revocation of London Metropolitan University Tier 4 Licence by UKBA
- Suspension of Government run universities and colleges
- Students refused visa extensions after college closed down
- No work allowed for students at private colleges
- Students losing thousands of pounds
- Students being deported
- Students paying for a new visa just to move college (e.g. licence revoked)
- Students refused visa extensions for the slightest reason or error in application
- Reforms to family migration splitting families apart
- Government policy to slash net migration from hundreds to tens of thousands
- Removal of appeal rights against refusal
- Endless immigration ‘crackdowns’ and anti-immigration rhetoric by Home Secretary Theresa May
- And so on….
Before the last election Mr Cables own Liberal Democrat party campaigned for a more open immigration policy, but this was quietly dropped when Nick Clegg got into bed with David Cameron and formed the coalition Government.
To their credit, Vince Cable and Mayor Boris Johnson are not afraid to speak their mind, but the Home Office is not listening.
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