Suicidal tendencies

February 11, 2010

Your leader "Is survival all that matters?" (28 January) references international students as a potential source of increased funding for the British higher education sector. But this income stream will be irreparably damaged by the UK Border Agency's new student visa rules.

Under the plans proposed by the Government, all international students will be limited to degree study in the UK. This will prevent non-European Union students from taking A levels and foundation courses that prepare them for university study here. By our calculation, at least 25,000 international students will be lost to the sector. This represents more than 20 per cent of all non-EU undergraduates in UK universities.

By limiting legitimate international students while simultaneously piling additional pressure on British universities striving to make up for slashed budgets, the Government seems set on irrevocably damaging a sector that by its own estimate is worth £28 billion a year to the UK economy.

The international education industry calls for a considered review and the outcome of that UKBA review is imminent. Genuine international students bring much-needed economic support and add a significant cultural and diplomatic dimension to this country, the loss of which will surely damage the UK's global position and significance.

Let us get our house in order. Let us not punish the innocent with knee-jerk reactions designed to prevent unlawful entry by preventing any entry, but instead consider the gold standard of our renowned higher education system and sensibly tackle the problems, benefiting ourselves and legitimate students in the process.

James Pitman, Managing director, Study Group - Higher Education United Kingdom and Europe

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