UK immigration minister responds to criticism

28 Jan 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Damian Green has responded to criticism from leading higher education figures.

Leading figures in the higher education sector have criticised the government's proposed changes to the UK visa system for students.

Today (Friday, January 28th), immigration minister Damian Green responded to the remarks.

Writing on popular student website the Student Room, Mr Green said that the education sector's views are being considered as part of a public consultation on how best to reduce the number of students coming to the UK.

He insisted, however, that the country "must be more selective about who can come here and how long they can stay".

The comments criticising the government's plans to reduce UK visas for students were headed by Universities UK, a group representing vice chancellors from the country's higher education establishments.

While the group called the proposed changes "damaging and dangerous" and vehemently opposed plans to reduce the numbers of overseas students able to study in the UK, they did note their agreement with plans to cut out abuse of the UK visa system in this area.

Some of the concerns are focused on the fact that universities will miss out on the money that comes from the higher fees charged to overseas students.

However, earlier this week, Sharon Bamford, chief executive of the Association of MBAs in London, told the Financial Times that the proposal to restrict UK work permit applications from overseas students will have a long-term negative effect on business in the country.

"When they are doing business, they won't look at the UK," she explained, adding: "How can we be a competitive nation if we are so inward-looking?"

Mr Green concluded that the government is looking to encourage "high calibre students with the genuine desire to study to come to our country for temporary periods, and then return home with enhanced skills and career prospects".