During a five day visit to India, Boris Johnson has spoken out against the Government’s unwelcoming attitude towards foreign students on a tier 4 student visa and restrictions on overseas students which may be putting them off coming to the UK.
The Mayor believes that new rules introduced last year by ministers to clampdown on overseas students and bogus colleges sent out the “wrong signal” and could hit the £2.5bn revenue stream that British universities earn from their fees.
Figures released by the Mayor, show that there has been a 9% fall in the number of Indian students applying to study in the UK this year. It has been predicted that there is a further fall of 25% for next year.
The new restrictions include higher standards of English literacy and refusing overseas graduates the right to stay in the UK unless they secure a job with a salary above £20,000. This could lead to students being deterred from studying in the UK as it would mean their futures would not be secure.
Calls to promote British universities
Speaking to Indian students in Delhi, Johnson said that he was urging the Government to set up an educational exports commission to promote Britain’s universities abroad and help secure their future. One of its tasks would be to find out if foreign students were choosing to study in the US, Canada and Australia instead of Britain.
The Mayor said: “It’s crazy that we should be losing India’s top talent and global leaders of the future to Australia and the United States.”
Further, he said that he had written to Theresa May and Vince Cable, backing a campaign to exclude students from the government’s target of reducing net migration.
The problem with perception
Although 75% of Indian students are granted visas, the Mayor believes that there is a problem with perception and said “we need to see a strong statement of welcome to make sure that the visa system is not a deterrent to international students.”
The UKBA’s recent decision to remove London Metropolitan University’s (LMU) ability to sponsor visas for foreign students has had a negative impact on how foreign students perceive the UK. The way the UKBA handled the situation can be said to be without regard to the welfare of these students and may lead others to believe that if they get admitted to British universities, there is no certainty that they will be able to complete their studies.
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