Cobra beer peer says student visa changes are ‘nonsense’

A businessman and cross-bench peer has criticised government plans to dramatically reduce the number of student visas.

October 30, 2011

Lord Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra Beer and former chancellor of the University of West London, said that the new immigration cap was a “crude” implement that had already led to a fall in applications to UK universities from Indian students.

In an after-dinner-speech to the Association of MBAs, he said: “We fought so hard to allow foreign graduates to work [in the UK] for two years after graduating, so they could pay for their education.

“Then you bring in a crude immigration cap…what sort of nonsense is this?”

He added: “I know Cranfield [which bestowed an honorary degree on Lord Bilimoria] and I know Cambridge, and the number of applicants from India has really plummeted.”

Born in India, Lord Bilimoria trained as an accountant at what is now London Metropolitan University and then completed a law degree at the University of Cambridge.

He was chancellor of the University of West London, formerly Thames Valley University, from 2005 until earlier this year.

During his speech on 19 October, he also attacked the coalition for using the Browne Review to justify cuts to the higher education budget.

“They [the government] used it to cut higher education funding by 80 per cent which forced the universities to increase their fees to up to £9,000,” he said.

“Here’s something that gives us a competitive edge in the rest of the world and we try and cut it – because we are all in this together. Absolute nonsense. I think it’s wrong.”

Cobra Beer went into administration in May 2009, reportedly leaving £70 million in unpaid debts to creditors, but has since been resurrected.

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