Free Press Journal

‘UK losing share of international student market’


London: UK immigration strategy is costing the country its share in the valuable international student market, including from India, a new all-party parliamentary group said today.

Students should be “disentangled” from the immigration debate, an All-Party Parliamentary Group for international students said in a statement after its inaugural meeting.

UK immigration strategy is costing the country its share in the valuable international student market, APPG said in a statement.

“Indian students were already choosing Australia over the UK,” said Lord Karan Bilimoria, co-chairman of APPG and co-founder of Cobra Beer. The new group echoes warnings by MPs and academics that the inclusion of international students in targets to cut net migration risks putting them off coming to the UK.

Three years ago, the chairmen of five parliamentary committees wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to remove students from migration targets, but the government refused.

Last month, 30,000 overseas students a year had had their visas to remain in the UK curtailed, BBC reported.

The inaugural meeting heard Canada had overtaken the UK last year as a destination for international undergraduates, while Australia was projected to do so in little over a decade.

The umbrella group Universities UK has described the trends in international student recruitment as “worrying”.

Lord Bilimoria said an “overwhelming majority” of British people appreciated the importance of international students. “There is great benefit to building bridges between Britain and international students from around the world,” he said.

“Their experience in the UK will support Britain’s soft power and will encourage others to share in the UK’s international education.” According to the Home Office, visa applications from international students to study at British universities are up 17 per cent on 2010, with applications to “our elite Russell Group universities” up 39 per cent.

“We welcome people who want to come to the UK to study at our world-leading institutions, but all types of immigration have an impact on our communities, on housing and on our public services,” a spokesman said.

Since 2010, the government had “cracked down on immigration abuse from poor qualify institutions that were damaging the UK’s reputation as a provider of world-class education”, he added.