Immigration Policies Causing Loss to UK Universities

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Melvyn Bragg Signatory to Letter to British PM

British universities could lose out on millions of pounds annually in fees from foreign students if immigration policies are not changed, senior education figures have warned the prime minister.

Government crackdowns on immigration could lead to overseas students going elsewhere for their higher education, according to a group of 68 chancellors, governors and university presidents.

In a letter to David Cameron, they claim that the UK attracts around one in 10 students who study outside their home country, generating around £8bn a year in tuition fees.

It echoes warnings from Professor Eric Thomas, president of Universities UK and vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol, earlier this month, when he claimed that recent visa changes could deter foreign students.

Thomas said he planned to write to the prime minister urging him to class international students as temporary rather than permanent migrants.

Those calls have been backed in a letter to Cameron signed by former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell, chancellor of St Andrews University, as well as broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg, chancellor of the University of Leeds.

Former Conservative minister Virginia Bottomley, chancellor of the University of Hull, and Patrick Stewart, chancellor of the University of Huddersfield have also given their support. Thomas said previously: “The UK seems to be telling the world it doesn’t welcome international students, while other countries are travelling in different directions.

“We are requesting that international university students should be removed from the net migration statistics for policy purposes, bringing us in line with our major competitors.

“We believe that this would help the government by creating a clear differentiation between temporary and permanent migration, help universities whose international character is essential to their future success, and help the UK by contributing to economic growth.”

International students contribute £5bn a year to the UK economy, a figure that rises to £8bn when EU students are included, with the potential to increase to £17bn by 2025 and “create thousands of jobs”, Thomas claimed.

If universities face a decrease in overseas admissions, they could each lose £5m to £7m a year, he added.

Recent changes to immigration policy include the fact that international students can no longer bring their dependents with them unless they are taking a postgraduate course which is at least 12 months long, and there is a “more selective” system in place for students wanting to stay in the UK to work after completing their studies.

News & Image Source : the guardian

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