Injurious visa rules irk Miliband

Ex-foreign secretary decries border policy debarring lucrative overseas students. Chris Parr reports

November 15, 2012



Credit: Alamy
Welcome to the UK? UK stance on immigration 'puts off foreign students'


"Boneheaded" government immigration policy is jeopardising the higher education sector by deterring international students from UK study, former foreign secretary David Miliband has said.

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to reduce net migration to under 100,000 by the next general election. Although the Office for National Statistics has announced it will publish disaggregated net migration figures that do not include international students, they will still be included in the overall numbers against which this target is measured.

Mr Miliband said that the government was "pursuing this political slogan of reducing immigration to tens of thousands" at the expense of developing a "sensible" immigration policy.

"What I feel passionately about is the overall policy of restricting visas for students, curtailing the rights of students to work after they complete university, and the economic, social and educational cost to the country," he told Times Higher Education after addressing students during an "in conversation" event at the University of Reading last week.

"You've got to recognise that higher education is one of our biggest assets, students from abroad are part of the game, and that by curtailing the attractiveness of British higher education, we're doing great injury to our own future."

Failure to develop a policy that encourages non-European Union students to study in the UK meant that the country was missing out on billions of pounds in potential revenue, he said. "Every university I visit tells me that Britain is handing students over to American, Australian, even German universities at a cost to our own society as well as our own educational institutions."

Mr Miliband has been touring UK universities in a bid both to engage students in political discussion and promote the Labour Party among younger voters. He has also been campaigning for employers to ensure that they pay the "living wage", which stands at £8.55 an hour in London and £7.45 for the rest of the UK, as opposed to the current minimum wage of £6.19.

He described implementation of the living wage as a "challenge" for some universities, pointing out that catering and cleaning staff do not always receive it. But he praised some "notable successes", including adoption of the policy at the University of Manchester and Goldsmiths, University of London, and called on the sector to "show leadership" on fair pay.

Mr Miliband - who narrowly lost out to his brother Ed in the race to become Labour leader in 2010 - added that he had visited around 30 universities in the past 12 months.

He said: "I've tried to make my contribution to not just spreading the Labour message but also trying to explain to people why and how politics can make a difference."

chris.parr@tsleducation.com.

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 6 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
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman

Nosey man outside window

Head of UK admissions service Mary Curnock Cook addresses concerns that universities might ‘not hear a word’ from applicants