Cambridge vice-chancellor hits out at UK immigration policy

03 Jul 2015 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The vice-chancellor of Cambridge University has criticised the effects the Government’s policy on immigration is having on education.

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, the son of Polish immigrants, said that including overseas students in net migration figures was ‘crazy’ and ‘ludicrous’. He spoke out at an event in London and in a pamphlet for the Leadership Foundation for Education called 'The personal and the political in leadership: a story of immigration, students and targets'.

Sir Leszek wrote: “The welcome that my family received in the UK, and the education that I benefitted from, allowed me to aspire to the highest level of excellence, and instilled in me a belief that access to education should be universal, cutting through national, cultural and class differences.”

He called issues with international movement and controls on immigration “one of the biggest threats currently facing UK universities”. It is an issue that clashes with his own values and those of all higher education institutions, he claimed.

Because the UK’s top universities compete with their contemporaries internationally, he argued it was vital they could both recruit and retain the best students and staff from around the world. However, Sir Leszek said that “the political and media narrative has become dominated by a negative account of immigration and a drive to bring immigration ‘under control’, most notably in the Conservative Party’s 2010 general election manifesto commitment to reduce net migration levels to ‘tens of thousands’ a year".

And he called for students to be removed from the Government’s targets on net migration.

“This is one of the most ludicrous measures that we actually have and it seems to be an absolute fixation. It is crazy that we are measuring them at the same time as we are deliberately trying to attract them,” said Sir Leszek.