The BBC reports that influential Chairmen of five UK parliamentary committees have written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to remove overseas students from migration targets.
The group of elected Members of Parliament (MP’s) are asking Mr Cameron to “reconcile” the “tensions” between tougher restrictions and the desire for economic growth.
Officials said that the fall in net migration figures last year was “largely due” to a drop in non-EU students, which is depriving the UK economy of millions of pounds in revenue at a time when the economy is heading for a triple dip recession.
Even EU students from Romania and Bulgaria are being deterred by six month delays in processing ‘yellow card’ permits, allowing them to work in the UK while studying, and the requirement to take out expensive Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (private medical policies) when they already have access to the NHS.
But the government is standing by its pledge to “stamp out abuses” of the immigration system, with Mr Cameron confirming during this week’s Parliamentary Questions that the UK Border Agency were dealing with “bogus colleges” and “bogus students”.
On Thursday, the House of Lords is set to debate the impact of immigration policy on UK higher education.
The coalition has pledged to restrict the level of annual net migration – the number of people who come to live in the UK for the long-term and the number who are leaving – to “tens of thousands” by the next election in 2015, a target which it looks unlikely to meet.
Since last year, all institutions which want to sponsor non-European Union students for a visa must be accredited as “highly trusted”, having already been previously licensed by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) as “A Rated”.
Colleges faced spending between £25,000 and £50,000 complying with new rules and conditions, as well going through new inspections by different accreditation bodies.
Many college owners have decided to “throw in the towel” on the UK market and set up elsewhere, especially when the UKBA changed the Immigration Rules on working part time allowing work only for those students studying in government owned institutions.
Others have had their licences suspended or revoked due to high refusal rates by Entry Clearance Officers (ECO’s), which are obviously out of their control and now involve interviews where applicants are told they cannot speak English despite holding a valid IELTS certificate.
Student applicants now have to speak a higher standard of English (even when coming to learn English) and the “post-study work route” to staying for 2 years to find work has been abolished, unless graduates have an offer of one of a list of skilled jobs.
The overall UK net migration figure fell from 242,000 to 183,000 in the year to March.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said this was “largely due” to a decline in the number of foreign students despite an increase in the number of arrivals from China – the UK’s largest overseas student market.
Critics of the government’s changes say they damage the economy by restricting the lucrative movement of students to the UK, putting UK universities at a disadvantage.
In their letter to Mr Cameron, the five select committee chairmen urge “further action to encourage international university students to study in the UK”.
They add: “Doing so has the potential to support economic growth in the immediate and longer term, supporting jobs in university towns and increasing export earnings.
“International students who study in the UK also build relationships which last over time, laying the foundations for future business opportunities in emerging economies, and supporting our foreign policy objectives.”
They also ask the prime minister to “reconcile the remaining tensions between visa policy and aspirations for growth by removing international students from the net migration target”.
The signatories include three Labour MPs: Keith Vaz (Home Affairs Committee), Adrian Bailey (Business Committee) and Margaret Hodge (Public Accounts Committee). The others are cross-bench peers Lord Hannay (Europe Sub-Committee) and Lord Krebs (Science and Technology Committee). Source: BBC.
Students already in the UK are also being deterred by new Rules and draconian immigration decisions seemingly designed to get rid of as many of them as possible. Foreign students see the government’s actions as basically saying “go home, we don’t want you or your money in the UK”.
Many students are even being arrested and detained, in some cases for months on end, before being removed from the UK after being refused visa extensions.
If you have been detained, need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email:
Related Immigration Articles: