Migration target panned by another Parliamentary committee

A fifth Parliamentary committee has urged the government to remove international students from its net migration target, warning that failure to do so will damage UK universities.

December 18, 2012

The House of Lords EU Committee today joins peers on the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee and MPs on the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, the Home Affairs Committee and Public Accounts Committee in calling for action from the government.

Universities UK is now likely to highlight the fact that although five Parliamentary committees back its cause, the government is yet to make the policy shift.

The coalition is implementing a Conservative manifesto pledge to reduce net migration to the "tens of thousands" by 2015 - with non-EU students forming a key target for reductions.

But UUK has mounted a lobbying campaign to urge the government to withdraw university-sponsored students from its net migrant targets, which would remove the government's incentive to target those students for reductions.

The Lords EU Committee considered the position of international students in the UK as part of its report, The EU's Global Approach to Migration and Mobility.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick, chairman of the Home Affairs, Health and Education Sub-Committee, which is part of the Lords EU Committee, said: "We urge the government to remove international students from the public policy implications of its net migration reduction targets.

"Failure to do so will impair both the quality of the UK's higher education sector and its ability to attract talented individuals in an increasingly competitive global market. It will also damage one of the UK's primary invisible exports and the long-terms benefits of fostering international relationships in this area."

With Parliamentary pressure building on the government, it may now look to the political impact of altering the way it measures it migration target.

Central to that will be Labour's reaction to any policy shift.

Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, told a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration last month that there had been "progress" on establishing a political consensus that would allow the government to exempt students from its target without being accused of a U-turn by Labour.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

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