Five committee chairs urge change on overseas students

The chairs of five parliamentary committees have written to the prime minister urging him to remove overseas university students from the net migrant target, highlighting “unprecedented” consensus between MPs and peers on the move.

January 31, 2013

The letter, which stresses the economic benefits of international students, will step up the pressure on David Cameron to intervene in a policy area overseen by Theresa May, the home secretary.

Universities UK has been lobbying MPs and peers to warn of the negative affect of the government’s visa tightening on international recruitment. The letter from the five committee chairs marks the culmination of that lobbying.

The five chairs tell Mr Cameron: “In advance of your forthcoming visit to India, where applications to UK universities have been particularly badly affected, we are…writing to you to ask you to reconcile the remaining tensions between visa policy and aspirations for growth by removing international students from the net migrant target.”

The letter is signed by the chair of five committees that have already recommended the move: the Business Innovation and Skills Committee, the Public Accounts Committee, and Home Affairs Committee in the House of Commons and the European Union Sub-Committee on Home Affairs, Health and Education and Science and Technology Committee in the House of Lords.

The five note of their agreement: “We believe this degree of consensus between committees of both houses is unprecedented.”

Encouraging overseas university students to study in the UK “has the potential to support economic growth in the immediate and longer term, supporting jobs in university towns and increasing export earnings (projected to increase from £8 billion to £17 billion by 2025),” the five chairs also write.

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