University vice-chancellors have spoken out about the culture of hostility towards international students which has developed as a result of the coalition government’s drive to cut levels of net migration to the UK. The comments follow the UK Government’s drive to hit the target of reducing net migration below 100,000 by the time of the 2015 general elections.
Consequences of Government’s Plans for Restrictions on UK Immigration
Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, president of Universities UK – the body which represents university vice-chancellors told UUK’s annual conference today:
“As we approach the election, we can probably expect more discussion about visas and the likelihood of proposals for further restrictions, reflecting the public paranoia over immigration.”
The Professor believes that plans to increase the number of international students studying in the UK by 50,000 over the next decade could be jeopardised as they perceive they will be unwelcome when they arrive in the UK.
‘Vital’ Foreign Students Contribute £17bn to UK Economy
Education is one of the UK’s most successful export sectors, albeit an export sector (like tourism) that mostly works by bringing students to the UK. One of the ways international students contribute to the UK is by paying high fees to universities and colleges.
At the annual conference, Professor Sir Christopher Snowden urged ministers to recognise international students as being the “next generation of potential politicians and business leaders” on which the UK will depend on for its commerce, rather than as “immigrants and a statistic to be used as a political football.”
The Professor stated that foreign students were ‘vital’ to the UK and contributed £17bn to the economy.
UK Public’s Paranoia over Immigration
Professor Quintin McKellar, vice-chancellor of Hertfordshire University has echoed Professor Sir Christopher Snowden’s comments by stating:
“We do have an issue not just in the universities but in the whole of the UK of having essentially quite a xenophobic population.”
Speaking after Lib Dems Business Secretary Vince Cable’s speech at the conference, he urged vice-chancellors to recruit more international students and encouraged them to pursue the aim of having 50,000 more overseas students in the next five to ten years as it would be seen as a “great achievement.”
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