UK immigration policy 'deterring foreign students'

01 Aug 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

UK immigration policy is having a negative impact on the country's reputation overseas, a recent interview with Steve Smith has suggested.

Speaking to George Eaton of the New Statesman, the head of Universities UK explained that the cap on immigration is giving out the message that Britain is 'closed for business'. "On every single international visit I've been on this year it's been the only issue that's been discussed," he stated.

The government introduced a cap on immigration, limiting the number of UK work permits to 21,700 a year. Student immigration was also tightened up, with restrictions imposed on language, dependants and the opportunities for paid employment available to people studying in the UK.

The comments follow a report from the cross-party Scottish Affairs Committee, which suggested that the Scottish economy will be disproportionately affected by the restrictions on UK visas for students.

Ian Davidson MP, chair of the committee, noted that the higher education sector is worth nearly £0.5 billion in export income to Scotland. However, the government's changes to immigration policy "risk compromising and diminishing not only the high standard of education provided by higher education institutions in Scotland but also threaten the valuable contribution of the international students who study at these institutions, to Scottish society".