Cable criticises any gloating over immigration figures

Vince Cable has said any sense of “triumph” over new figures showing a decline in student immigration is “absurd”, as he issued a strong defence of international student movement

May 29, 2013

Speaking at the Global University Summit, hosted by the University of Warwick, in central London, the business secretary also suggested that in order to tackle the ongoing tension between the government’s targets to lower net migration and the important overseas student market, “we need to find a cleverer way to present the data”.

His comments seemed to support the higher education’s long-running lobbying campaign to get international students removed from the net migration figures, which the government has pledged to cut from the “hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands”.

Speaking today, Mr Cable said international students were “good for the country, good for universities” but that “one of the problems we have stems from a statistical anomaly in that the United Nations, in its wisdom, has classified overseas students as immigrants, which they are not”.

He added: “All the evidence suggests the British public do not see them as immigrants, but nonetheless they have got caught up in this torrid and emotional debate in the UK.”

Mr Cable’s remarks at the conference, for which Times Higher Education is media partner, came after figures released last week showed net migration to the UK fell again mainly thanks to a 23 per cent drop in the number of students coming to the country to study.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics on 23 May showed that 190,000 migrants arrived to study in the year to September 2012, a fall of 56,000 on the previous year.

Speaking after Mr Cable, Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, also pressed the case for facilitating rather than hindering overseas students in coming to the UK.

He said that last week’s figures showing a decline in international students were “not necessarily a positive economic indicator”, adding that London was attractive for a host of reasons, including the fact that it had “more Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris” and “a wonderful communist bike scheme sponsored by a bank”.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry