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Stevens Machi Solicitors

The latest immigration and visa law news, blogs and announcements from Stevens Machi.

Concerns Over Plans to Reduce Student Immigration

Several of the top universities in the UK have raised concerns over the Government’s apparent plans to crack down on the number of overseas students coming to the UK to study as a way of bringing down overall immigration numbers, reports the Guardian.

According to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, one option the Government is considering is the introduction of different visa rules for universities that are seen as “lower quality”.

Opposition from Universities

However, Universities UK, a body made up of vice-chancellors and principals of UK universities, claims that the idea of cutting international students is misguided and doesn’t reflect the views or wishes of the British public.

It recently commissioned a poll from ComRes, which revealed that only a quarter (24%) of British adults think of international students as immigrants. Of those that expressed a view, 75% say they would like to see the same number of international students in the UK, or more. This figure increased to 87% once respondents were given information on the economic benefits of international students.

Public Back Retention of International Students

The poll also revealed that the overwhelming majority of the British public (91%) think that international students should be able to stay and work in the UK for a period of time after they have completed their study.

Other findings of the poll include:

  • Of those who expressed a view, 71% say they would support a policy to help boost growth by increasing overseas students, with only 7% saying they would strongly oppose such a policy. Around 25% of British adults did not express an opinion on this issue.
  • Just 25% of leave and 23% of remain voters said that they think of international students as immigrants.
  • Of those that expressed a view, 81% agree that international students have a positive impact on local economies and towns in which they study.
  • Around one in five British adults (19-23%) did not express an opinion on each of these issues.

 

Universities UK has also pointed to research showing that overseas students at British universities support over 170,000 jobs in local communities across the UK. International students are also a major UK export, currently worth over £10.7 billion to the UK economy.

International Students are Good for the Economy

"These findings are a clear indication that any new policies aimed at lowering net migration figures by reducing the number of overseas students will not address public concerns over immigration,” commented Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK. “International students come to the UK, are welcomed by British people, study for a period, and then the overwhelming majority go home after their studies.”

"While countries such as Australia, the USA and Canada have policies to grow the numbers of international students, the UK Government has said that it is considering policies to reduce numbers here,” she said.

"The negative economic impact of a reduction in international student numbers would be felt by local communities across the UK,” she added. “International students support regional economies, create jobs, supply high level graduate skills, and ensure the sustainability of many courses at a regional level. Many international students return home having forged strong links in this country that provide long-term, 'soft power' and trade benefits for the UK."

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