Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is considering curbing the number of international students in the UK to reduce net migration, according to media reports.
A report by The Times newspaper states that UK government is thinking restricting international student numbers and planning to allow prospective international students only to elite universities. The report also outlines that there will be restrictions on the number of dependents that international students bring to the UK.
The issue of reducing the number of international students in the UK was also raised earlier by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, SuellaBraverman, who said that the UK had seen a large increase in international students and their family members and she was planning to restrict the number of international students in the UK who can remain in the country after graduation.
"Students are coming on their student visa, but they’re bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa. Those people are coming here, they’re not necessarily working or they’re working in low-skilled jobs, and they’re not contributing to growing our economy,"
Sunak’s plan has received criticism andn reaction from all concerned. Vivienne Stern, Chief Executive of Universities UK said "International students make a net positive contribution of at least £26 billion per year to the UK economy and are the source of almost 70% of our education export earnings. They sustain jobs in towns and cities up and down the country. They also bring enormous benefits to university campuses". In her opinion, curbing on international student numbers would be an act of self-harm.
"This attack on international students and the university sector is perverse and damaging. Our universities are a jewel in the crown of the UK economy and British society," the President and Vice-Chancellor of Richmond American University, Phil Deans, wrote in a blog post.
Justine Greening, the former Conservative education secretary, has attacked Rishi Sunak’s proposals to limit the number of international students at British universities, arguing that the move could have a “severe negative impact” on the country.
"Reducing the number of international students could have a severe negative impact on Britain’s economy, productivity, and our world-leading universities," Greening said in a letter co-signed by 12 university vice-chancellors.
The 12 vice-chancellors who signed the letter include the leaders of Southampton and Loughborough universities, as well as Steve West, the vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England and president of the Universities UK group.
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