The UK Government is making progress towards its target of slashing net migration to the to less than 100,000 per year by the next election. Figures published by the Home Office last week showed that estimated net migration had fallen to 153,000 in the year ending September 2012 from 242,000 in the previous year.
But this has come at a cost – the loss of international students who bring huge economic and cultural benefits to the UK. To achieve the sharp fall in non-EU immigration, the Home Office has used a blunt instrument to deter thousands of fee paying international students, who are not even immigrants.
The Home Office has focused on students because they are the largest single group arriving in any given year (around 60% of non-EU immigration). As long as international students are included in the net migration target, the quickest and easiest way for the Government to reach its targets is to ruthlessly cull student numbers at all costs.Roblox HackBigo Live Beans HackYUGIOH DUEL LINKS HACKPokemon Duel HackRoblox HackPixel Gun 3d HackGrowtopia HackClash Royale Hackmy cafe recipes stories hackMobile Legends HackMobile Strike Hack
In the past the Tier 4 student visa system has been abused by some private colleges, branded “bogus colleges” by former Home Secretary Alan Johnson,
Education is one of the UK’s most successful ‘exports’, which like tourism works by bringing customers (students) to the UK rather than sending goods abroad.
According to the think tank ippr, international students contribute an estimated £8bn to the UK economy every year paying tuition fees to universities and colleges and making a valuable contribution to local economies. The students turned away, refused visa extensions or just scared off from studying in the UK would have been customers for landlords, bars, shops and restaurants, as well as for colleges, at a time when sources of economic growth are desperately needed.
AT a time when higher education facing drastic funding cuts and higher fees for local students, universities were relying on growth in the international student market to fill the gaps in their finances. UK universities are still concerned as the previous trend of growth has been abruptly halted. With a substantial number of international university students coming via the UK FE sector, which has seen numbers fall by almost 50%, the full impacts of the new visa rules on universities have yet to be seen.
“Cuts to foreign student numbers mean a future Indian prime minister might end up studying in Sydney rather than Sussex”. Sarah Mulley, The Guardian.
More worrying is the fact that many strategically important Stem (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) departments depend heavily on international students for their very existence. The student unable to get a visa to study at a UK FE or private college this year might have been the star student in a university maths department in 2015.
In addition to the obviously direct economic benefits, foreign students bring dynamism, innovation, and international connections which can benefit the UK in the long term. Fewer Indian students now (down 38% in the year to March 2013) might mean that 2015’s IT entrepreneur finds herself graduating from Stanford, handily located for Silicon Valley, rather than from Imperial, handily located for Silicon Roundabout. Or that 2020’s industrial magnate finds himself fondly remembering student days in Toronto, rather than Manchester, when making his investment decisions. Or even that India’s prime minister in 2030 finds that she has a greater affinity with Australia, the country where she completed her graduate studies, than with the ever-more-distant former colonial power of the UK.
Sarah Mulley, writing for the Guardian added:
“None of this is to say that there are not difficult trade-offs here. Taking steps to reduce abuse in the visa system, for example, will always lead to some genuine applicants being turned away. But in their rush to meet an arbitrary net migration target, the Government is making bad decisions; decisions that will, in the long-term, do more harm than good.”
Meanwhile other countries are stepping up efforts to attract more lucrative international students. Last week the French Parliament held a debate on how to increase its share of the foreign student market and earn more revenue for their universities. Measures given the green light by French MP’s last Thursday include running degree courses in English, but France will also need to reform strict student visa rules.
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