Cutting student UK immigration 'could cost economy billions'

14 Jun 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The British economy could lose out on billions of pounds due to changes to the student section of UK immigration.

At the moment, the government is working to lower the number of UK visas issued to curb migration to the "tens of thousands".

As a part of this, it has been confirmed that the laws governing UK visas for students will be tightened up.

Employment will be restricted, along with sponsorship of dependants. Meanwhile, stricter checks on maintenance funds will be introduced at the point of application.

However, according to Home Office figures, the drive to lower the number of overseas students will cost the country £2.4 billion more than it will save.

The UK immigration officials have estimated that just £170 million will be lost as a result of a reduction in tuition fee income.

However, they have also confirmed that this figure is "relatively uncertain" due to the fact that it is based on the assumption that 80 per cent of the lose places will be replaced by students from within the European Union, the Guardian reported.

Jonathan Portes, of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, told the paper: "The government has rightly said that economic growth is its top priority. It also has the commendable objective of rebalancing the UK economy away from consumption and towards exports.

"However, the Home Office's own impact assessment shows changes to student visa rules will reduce both growth and exports."