Universities express fresh concern over UK visa routes

02 Mar 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Concerns have once again been aired regarding the government changes to the UK visa routes for students.

Eric Thomas, president of Universities UK, is among those to have expressed his worries regarding the potential for lost income. He suggested that the coalition should go so far as to discount university-sponsored overseas students from migration figures in a bid to acknowledge the true value of these individuals.

Indeed, a recent survey commissioned by the university group found that the public in general undervalue the financial worth of this group of immigrants.

The research also suggested that by discouraging students from moving to Britain through constraints on their employment, the government is putting billions of pounds of potential revenue at risk.

Professor Thomas explained that overseas students are worth £5 billion a year to the UK, although this could rise to as much as £16.9 billion by 2025.

However, the government is currently heavily involved with reducing immigration levels in a potentially misplaced bid to increase the number of jobs available to British workers as the economy continues to reach a full recovery. This could mean that many of the potential benefits of overseas students are lost.

Professor Thomas commented: “The government's approach to student visas must be proportionate and workable, and should not be imposed at the expense of our international reputation and our economic growth.”

UK immigration minister Damian Green appeared to express the opposite view, stating that there is “no incompatibility between a strong university sector and tough border controls”.