UK Immigration: Labour Plan to Scrap Net Migration Target

It has been reported in the news today, that Labour plan to scrap David Cameron’s target to reduce net migration to below 100,000. Yvette Cooper, the shadow secretary has spoken out on the target set by the Conservative party, explaining that she believes it completely misleads the Government’s immigration policy and has affected the number of international students and family migration to the UK. 

Yvette Cooper: International University Students should be taken out of the Net Migration Target

Cooper has defended international students studying in the UK, stating that there is currently no distinction between the different kind of migrants. For instance, overseas students, low-skilled migrants and people seeking asylum are counted for as the same. If Labour are elected next year,  have vowed to replace the Government’s net migration target with a much more strictly defined series of targets and controls which would not include overseas students.

The Shadow Secretary:

“We would not have a net migration target because choosing net migration to focus on is the wrong thing. We think immediately what should happen is that students, international university students, should be taken out of the net migration target straight away. What you should instead have is a series of different controls and targets for different kinds of immigration.”

The removal of international students from the Government’s net migration target is an ongoing argument. The debate is that the continuation of including international students in migrant figures will result in the UK pushing international talent to other countries.

Decline in the Number of International Students Studying in the UK

For the first time in 30 years, there has been a decline in the number of international students coming to the UK. For instance, 435,005 in 2011 to 431,905 in 2012. The number of Indian students coming to the UK has sharply declined, with 20,000 students coming from India in 2012 compared to 33,000 in 2010. Earlier this year, the Lords Select Committee published a report showcasing that an ‘unwelcoming’ UK has led to an unprecedented fall in international Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) student numbers.

This is a worry considering the significant contribution international students provide to the UK economy and Universities. Nearly 20% of the output generated by universities can now be attributed to the enrolment of non-EU students (£13.9 billion of £73 billion). Money spent by international students (EU and non-EU) on fees and accommodation amounted to £4.4 billion in 2011–12;  £3.8 billion was from non-EU students alone. This expenditure, as well as that spent off-campus, has knock-on effects, generating jobs throughout the UK: of the 757,268 full-time equivalent jobs generated by the higher education sector in 2011–12, 18% of these can be attributed to the enrolment of non-EU students (136,639 jobs).

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