Liberal Democrat Vince Cable has admitted that UK visa issues are causing “a lot of tension” in government between the different parties.
Speaking at the Sarat Bose Memorial Lecture, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, said that the tension is particularly focused between his ministry and that of the Home Office, which is headed by Conservative Theresa May, noting that there is “deep disagreement in our coalition” on the matter of immigration.
The discussions focused around UK visas for Indian students with Cable confirming that he was in favour of providing greater leniency for overseas students looking to acquire post-study work visas in Britain, while the Conservatives are working hard to cut down the immigration numbers and are focusing on students as part of their plans in this area.
Keen to discourage the suggestion that the UK is looking to discourage overseas students, Cable said: “The student visa has been tightened, but there is a perception issue in India that UK no longer welcomes students, which is not true at all.”
However, tougher visa requirements have been implemented across the board, including for student applicants and graduates. In some cases, these have been beneficial with tougher checks imposed to ensure that people are not abusing the student visa system to work in the UK without studying. But Cable's comments reflect broader concerns that the changes are also discouraging students with a genuine interest in studying in the UK from applying for positions here.
UK visas for students from overseas, including India of course, are still available. To apply, students will need to meet language ability requirements and, if they want to work on a post-study visa in Britain, they will now need to meet a higher basic salary threshold.