New rules on student visas could damage Scottish universities and the wider economy, a committee of MPs has said.
The BBC reports that the Scottish Affairs Committee has warned that tighter restrictions will have a disproportionate impact in Scotland.
The MPs claimed that abuse of the current system was “largely insignificant” in the Scottish context.
A report issued by the MPs calls on the government to adjust UK criteria to accommodate Scottish circumstances.
The UK government published its consultation paper on the student immigration system in December 2010.
It has said that it intends to reduce net migration to the UK from outwith the EU to “the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands”.
The MPs warned that Scottish circumstances were not adequately taken into account when proposals were drawn up.
Ian Davidson MP, chairman of the committee, said: “The university and higher education sector contributes nearly £500m in export income to Scotland.
“We accept the need to control immigration but believe the government should be more focused in its approach.
The select committee report has been welcomed by student representatives and the leaders of the Scottish universities.
Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said: “While immigration is reserved to Westminster it’s important that UK-wide policies are developed with appropriate sensitivity to differences across the UK.
“We hope the UK government will give due consideration to the committee’s recommendation for more flexibility around a six-year Visa for students coming to Scotland, which is a proportionate concession due to Scotland’s longer degrees.”
In its evidence to MPs, the University of Strathclyde said international students contributed £188m directly to universities in Scotland, and a further £321m to the wider Scottish economy.
The select committee came to the view that many international students who studied at Scottish universities aimed to acquire skills which were in demand in Scotland.
In its hearings on the proposals, the committee heard evidence from Damian Green, the minister for immigration at the Home Office.
He said he did not fully accept the view that immigration could address skills gaps in the UK.
Mr Green told them: “If your first response as an economy to having any kind of pressure is to bring in more people from around the world, one of the dangers is that you let employers off the hook of training.
“That is what has happened to a large extent, overall, in the UK labour market in the last 10 or 15 years.” SOurce: BBC.
International students contribute over £40 billion to the UK economy. The UK is the second most popular destination for international students, after the US, but it remains to see how long it will retain this position following the recent Tier 4 rule changes and the government’s pledge to slash the number of students and migrants coming into the country.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email:
Looking for a college or University or need advice?