Japa: ‘Lacks economic sense’ – University leaders, migration committee warn UK govt over reducing foreign students 

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Majority of university leaders in the United Kingdom (UK) have warned the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak and his cabinet, over further reducing the number of international students into their country.

In the same vein, Migration Advisory Council (MAC) has advised the UK government not to further restrict student immigration by abolishing its graduate visa programme.

Also, in March, the UK Home Secretary, James Cleverly asked for a review of whether the graduate visa route is “undermining the integrity and quality” of the higher education system.

Reacting to the development so far, some varsity leaders have described the reduction of the number of international students coming to the UK as “calamitous”.

The President of Universities UK (UUK), Professor Dame Sally Mapstone, said further reduction of the number of foreign students could harm the economy, skills and jobs, adding that such a move is “unnecessary”.

According to the Financial Times, a report from the review on whether there would be more curb on foreign students is due to be received by the UK Government.

Mapstone, who is also Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews in Scotland, made her comments on the Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme on Sky News.

Reacting to the curb on immigration, Mapstone said, “It is a very big issue for us. International students are incredibly important to UK culture.

“They contribute a huge amount to universities, to the economy, to skills and jobs and we think it would be a tragedy, calamitous not just for institutions but actually for the UK as a whole, if the Government took what would actually be quite unnecessary further action to restrict the number of international students coming into the UK.”

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Backing the disposition, the former universities minister, Lord Jo Johnson also called for the Government not to make cuts to international student numbers, calling the idea “self-defeating”.

He said, “Slashing the graduate route would set back so many important Government policy priorities: Global Britain, levelling up, exports, science superpower. It’s hard to think of a policy more self-defeating, and all for what? To lower immigration stats which international students shouldn’t be part of anyway.

“The sooner they are treated as migrants only when they actually indicate an intention to immigrate by applying for the graduate (visa) or a skilled economic work visa, the better.

“In a rational world, overseas students would be treated as temporary residents or tourists, with which they share many characteristics.”

The Chief Executive of the Russell Group of leading research universities, Dr Tim Bradshaw said, “International students are hugely valued as part of our university community, not only for their contributions to our local and national economies, but also their significant social and cultural benefits – including long-lasting soft power on the global stage.

“Placing further restrictions on them doesn’t make economic sense and will have a direct, negative impact on UK students.”

Also, the MAC Chairman, Professor Brian Bell, urged Sunak to not tamper with the graduate route that opens doors for foreign students to come and study in the UK.

Bell said, “The graduate route is a key part of the offer that we make to international students to come and study in the UK.

“The fees that these students pay helps universities to cover the losses they make in teaching British students and doing research. Without those students, many universities would need to shrink and less research would be done. This highlights the complex interaction between immigration policy and higher education policy.

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The Chief Executive of the Russell Group of leading research universities, Dr Tim Bradshaw said, “International students are hugely valued as part of our university community, not only for their contributions to our local and national economies, but also their significant social and cultural benefits – including long-lasting soft power on the global stage.

“Placing further restrictions on them doesn’t make economic sense and will have a direct, negative impact on UK students.”

Also, the MAC Chairman, Professor Brian Bell, urged Sunak to not tamper with the graduate route that opens doors for foreign students to come and study in the UK.

Bell said, “The graduate route is a key part of the offer that we make to international students to come and study in the UK.

“The fees that these students pay helps universities to cover the losses they make in teaching British students and doing research. Without those students, many universities would need to shrink and less research would be done. This highlights the complex interaction between immigration policy and higher education policy.

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