The British Council has clarified its position regarding student immigration following an attack from think tank Migration Watch.
The education body explained that its recent report into the impact of UK student visa policy was conducted independently and reiterated that it remains supportive of the government's bid to “attract genuine students to he UK and prevent 'bogus' students from studying in the UK”.
However, its report found that a tighter visa system can “be a factor in discouraging genuine students”. The British Council used this evidence to support its concern in relation to the government's crackdown on UK immigration.
“We are concerned therefore that if the impression is created by visa changes that the UK is 'closed for business', then genuine students might find competitor countries more attractive,” the group explained, noting that this would risk losing some of the £13.1 billion of education exports that the UK economy enjoyed in 2008-09.
But, Migration Watch's chairman, Sir Andrew Green, accused the British Council of undercutting government policy and stated that the “real lesson” of their report is that students routes are “open to manipulation” and as such, the government should reduce interviews for applicants.
The British Council's report is available for free to anyone in the UK who registers with the Internationalising Higher Education website.