Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts to slash immigration are risking Britain’s scientific prowess, the Business Secretary has suggested.
In outspoken comments, Vince Cable warned that tough new entry requirements for students may be “damaging” Britain’s reputation as a good place to study, the Telegraph reports this week.
He also claimed there is a “powerful constituency” arguing for more restrictions on immigration that could stop bright students coming to the UK
His comments are likely to be seen as a swipe at the Prime Minister’s promise to limit non-European citizens coming into Britain to the tens of thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands.
UK University chiefs from across Britain have warned that tough new visa restrictions imposed by the Home Office are driving applicants to study in other countries.
In a speech to scientists, Dr Cable agreed that the Coalition’s immigration policy may be “damaging to the perception of how we welcome talent from overseas”.
The new restrictions on economy boosting taxpaying students are helping to cut immigration numbers and stop the thousands of illegal immigrants entering the UK by falsely claiming to be students.
Downing Street has been considering whether to exempt students entirely from the Government’s targets on cutting immigration.
Removing students from the rules would help the Government hit its target of reducing immigration to the tens of thousands.
However, the idea of excluding students has previously been rejected by Damian Green, the immigration minister, amid concerns that he would be seen as “fiddling” the figures.
In a speech last night, Dr Cable indicated that any limit on legitimate foreign students coming to the UK is a threat to scientific excellence.
“This country’s ongoing scientific prowess depends to an ever greater extent on openness: our ability to attract creative minds to these shores, the exchange of students,” Dr Cable said.
“This might seem obvious but there is always a powerful constituency arguing for closed minds and closed borders.”
Dr Cable said pioneering scientific experiments, such as the Large Hadron Collider, depend on collaboration between academics across borders.
He said Britain must encourage “brain circulation” between borders in contrast to the “brain drain” of the 1960s. Source The Telegraph.
Earlier this week it was reported that the Immigration Minister Government is to reintroduce student interviews to “check their actual ability” to benefit from a UK course.
Damian Green told MPs the measure – strangely reminiscent of the pre-points based system methods deployed by those old fashioned Entry Clearance Officers – was being brought in “as of today” following a pilot carried out at the start of the year which found 17% of students accepted on a course “actually should be refused” as they could not speak “basic conversational English”.
His comments, reported by the Press Association this week, came in response to Tory Julian Brazier, who argued that while overseas students were “vital for our universities”, it had become an “increasingly abused immigration route”.
Mr Brazier said: “Would he agree that the blanket removal of students from the statistics would drive a coach and horses through the excellent measures he’s introduced.”
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