David Cameron has been urged to put an end to overseas students being included in migration targets in order to reconcile tensions and encourage internationals to study in the UK.
MPs Margaret Hodge and Keith Vaz are just some of the politicians campaigning the Prime Minister to overturn the government’s net migration policy, which counts non-EU students as immigrants.
The coalition has been warned on countless occasions of the negative impact on international students, with the Universities UK chief saying large numbers have been driven to competitor countries as a result.
The home office has insisted the net migration rules are in place to stamp out abuse of the immigration system and curtail the numbers of “bogus students” entering the UK. Theresa May recently announced even tougher restrictions on foreign students applying to study in the UK, revealing plans to vet prospective pupils.
In a letter to Cameron, the chairmen of five select committees, including home affairs, business and public accounts committees, urged “further action to encourage international university students to study in the UK,” the BBC reported.
“Doing so has the potential to support economic growth in the immediate and longer term, supporting jobs in university towns and increasing export earnings,” the letter read.
“International students who study in the UK also build relationships which last over time, laying the foundations for future business opportunities in emerging economies, and supporting our foreign policy objectives.”
The PM is also asked to reconcile the “remaining tensions between visa policy and aspirations for growth by removing international students from the net migration target”.
Boris Johnson has also previously voiced his concerns over “prejudice” against foreign students in the UK. On a trip to India in 2012, he said: “The policy on visas is, in my view, sending out the wrong signal. There are so many stipulations that we are starting to lose business to Australia, America and Canada.
“As I have written several times to the home secretary, we need to see a strong statement of welcome to make sure that the visa system is not a deterrent to international students.”