Britain’s most influential Asian politician urged the government to change its immigration policies to allow more foreign students come and study in the UK for the sake of economy.
Beacuse of the tough rules, the number of postgraduates from India and Pakistan halved in Between 2010 and 2013.
The government – and not the public – is “afraid” of international students, while the current policy on student visas is causing “terrible damage”, Mr Keith Vaz MP, told The Huffington Post UK.
The home affairs select committee chairman and Labour Party politician once urged the government to include overseas students in net migration figures, rather than treating them as immigrants.
Vaz recently co-hosted a debate on the issue of student visas to help form the committee’s report, which will be published prior to the 2015 general election. Despite the committee’s 2011 recommendations warning the government against introducing new immigration measures, as they would deter international students, they still remain defined as migrants.
“We need to make sure we retain our position in the world as the best place to study,” Vaz told The Huffington Post. “We need a fair and robust management system.”
Vaz says it is clear there are abuses of the system, but the hundreds of thousands who enter the UK to pursue their education “need defending”.
A recent study found there had been a “significant drop” in the number of international students coming to study in the UK, with the decline being the first in nearly three decades.
Vaz attributes the problem to Cameron ignoring India, and failing to tell the country’s students to come and study in the UK – as well as the damage caused by the London Metropolitan University (LMU) debacle.
“The way the home office dealt with LMU caused terrible damage. You don’t just go in there and start suspending licences when you’ve got real people who are studying. A massive disruption was caused and irreparable damage to the reputation of the university – as well as the UK.”
Despite LMU taking the government to court and winning its case, “the damage was already done”.
According to Vaz, the public “loves” to read negative stories about immigration, but international students are not a concern.
“The public are not afraid of international students. It’s section of the government that are afraid of them.
“International students are not taking up jobs, there is no empirical evidence showing students get jobs while they are here. The vast majority, if they can afford fees, which are enormous, can afford to look after themselves.”