UK visa restrictions a concern, says PM

09 Jul 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

UK visa restrictions are said to be a concern to prime minister David Cameron, who is worried that they are preventing wealthy foreigners from studying in this country.

At the moment, student visas are included in the official immigration figures. This is proving problematic given that the government has announced a target of reducing the number of immigrants to the "tens of thousands" and Mr Cameron is thought to be considering the idea of removing students from the count.

UK immigration minister Damian Green last month rejected the idea of excluding students from the count as there was some worry that it would be seen as "fiddling" the figures in order to reach set goals.

However, the prime minister is now thought to be showing some sympathy to the idea due to the economic importance of students. Indeed, the Home Office has stated that the cap on students in costing the economy around £2.6 billion as wealthy overseas students take their business elsewhere.

Nadhim Zawahi, Conservative MP, and Labour MP Paul Blomfield, observed that there is a "growing perception abroad that in terms of higher education, Britain is closed for business".

They added: "Recent changes to the student visa system have unfortunately broadcast the message that foreign students are unwelcome. We’ve already seen a dramatic fall in students coming from traditional markets such as India."

Visa conditions now mean that overseas students in the UK are severely restricted in terms of the type of study they can follow, what employment they can undertake and the length of time they are permitted to remain in the country.