The House of Lords has voted to remove students studying on a UK Tier 4 (General) Visa from immigration figures. This will include many Indian and Chinese nationals, currently in the UK on a Tier 4 student visa.
At present, foreign students are included in the 100,000 a year net migration target made by the Tory government. Academics and politicians argue that the British public does not consider those on international student visas in the same way it does migrants coming to work in the UK and therefore makes this number unrealistic.
In a crushing blow to Theresa May’s government, the House of Lords has agreed, recommending an amendment to remove international students from overseas migration figures.
A survey in 2016 found that three-quarters of British people do not consider overseas students as immigrants. Non-EU students generate around £26 billion for the UK economy and support nearly 200,000 jobs.
Home Secretary proposals to limit foreign students
Last year, British Home Secretary, Amber Rudd angered not only higher educational institutes and private schools, but many overseas governments, including India, when she proposed a new Points-Based System (PBS) aimed at international students. The new rules would see a two-tier visa rules system affecting poorer quality universities and courses, making it much harder to obtain a Tier 4 (General) Visa.
In her speech, the Home Secretary stated that while an international student was studying in Britain, their family members could do any form of work:
“….and foreign students, even those studying English language degrees, don’t even have to be proficient in speaking English. We need to look at whether this one-size-fits-all approach really is right for the hundreds of different universities providing thousands of different courses across the country. And we need to look at whether this generous offer for all universities is really adding value to our economy,” said the home secretary.
“I’m passionately committed to making sure our world-leading institutions can attract the brightest and the best. But a student immigration system that treats every student and university as equal only punishes those we should want to help. So our consultation will ask what more can we do to support our best universities – and those that stick to the rules – to attract the best talent … while looking at tougher rules for students on lower quality courses.”
The proposed changes have been described as ‘madness’ by the Labour party and academics, who, according to The Guardian, have expressed the view that the only people cheering this announcement will be competitors to the UK education market.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education declared the House of Lords decision ‘disappointing,' stating that the amendment could lead to immigration officials not being able to do routine visa checks or impose specific conditions on UK student visas.
The amendments will now be sent back to the House of Commons for a final vote by MPs.
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Posted on: Wednesday, 15 March, 2017