Britain's crackdown on immigration to damage economy, say university heads
|Posted online: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 5:52:14 PM|
London, May 30 : Britain's crackdown on immigration will risk deterring legitimate foreign students, which will lead to a loss of billions of pounds to the country, universities have said.
The heads of universities across Britain said that toughening student visas rules could lead bright applicants to apply to other institutions in other countries, The Telegraph reports.
In a letter to David Cameron, the heads of universities have called on the government to remove university students from net migration figures to help drive the economy and boost university income.
The letter has been signed by 68 chancellors, governors and university presidents, including those representing a number of elite Russell Group institutions, such as Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Warwick, Leeds, York, University College London and the London School of Economics.
Figures published last week showed that annual net migration to Britain currently stands at a record high of 250,000 a year. But the government has pledged to cut the total to below 100,000.
The heads of the universities claim that some universities have already seen the number of applications from India drop by a third this year.
Nicola Dandridge, UUK chief executive, said that the "cumulative effect of all these changes is to present a picture of the UK as not welcoming international students".
The letter to the Prime Minister welcomes the government's move to improve border controls and "counter any abuse of the student visa route".
However, they warn that increasing competition from a number of other countries will attract the students.
"Global competition for international students is intense and a number of other countries are increasing their efforts in this area," it says.
A recent report from the National Audit Office has revealed that between 40,000 and 50,000 people have illegally gained access to Britain after a new visa system was introduced in 2009.