Lord Mandelson has assured the education sector that he will ensure that the points based system for student visas supports the UK education sector.
In his speech “The transformation of higher education”, at London’s Birkbeck University on 27 July 2009, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson stressed the need for an immigration system which supports the education sector.
The increasingly powerful Minister said the Government will continue to welcome and value genuine international students and that Tier 4 would support the demand for student visas.
“We will continue to welcome genuine international students and ensure that the country’s immigration system, and the implementation of the student tier of the points-based approach, will fully support this recruitment in future – and I have my eagle eye well trained.
“We will also throw our weight behind UK universities looking to export their brands globally as the Prime Minister and I are already doing in our own foreign investment visits.”
Lord Mandelson highlighted that the quality of the UK’s universities and research base has played a critical role in attracting inward investment from knowledge-intensive businesses like Microsoft and Pfizer, pointing out that the UK is the second largest destination for overseas student. He said:
“These companies are not here out of fellow-feeling -they are here above all for a world-class university system and a science base that is second only to that of the US in productivity.
“That same level of quality has also seen us become the second biggest destination for another kind of import: overseas students, for whom the UK is now the second largest destination after the United States.”
Looking at the global market, where the UK is facing tough competition for the best students from the USA and Australia Lord Mandelson acknowledge Britain’s reputation fro educational excellence.
“We live in a world where 2 billion people are younger than 25 and where the appetite for Anglophone education is simply immense.”
Despite calls from opposition parties for further curbs on immigration Lord Mandelson recognised the fact that “some of our biggest companies will still say they can’t find sufficient well-qualified graduates in Britain – especially in core disciplines like engineering”.
Recognising the “export” value of Britain’s education, worth around £8 billion to the UK economy, the Minister announced a review of the post graduate higher education system.
“I am also keen to do some further work on the unique role of postgraduate education, which is often the point where students develop specialist skills to complement a more general undergraduate education.
“It is also a major export earner for the UK, and one which we have perhaps taken too much for granted. For that reason, I have decided to launch a review of postgraduate provision in Britain, led by Professor Adrian Smith, the director general of Science and Research in my department. It will draw on expertise from universities and businesses and report back in early 2010.”
Tier 4, for student visas, was lunched in March as part of the fiver tier points based system for migration.
I am in the Philippines this week an will be speaking at the MOVE EXPO at the SMX Convention Centre in Manila on 31 July and 1 August.
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