Open for business secretary: Cable’s message to world on visa reforms

December 9, 2011

The business secretary has attempted to send a message overseas that UK higher education is planning for “long-term growth” in international markets despite recent changes to student visa rules.

Vince Cable said it was “vital” the sector continued to attract overseas students to the country and reiterated that only “bogus” applications and poor quality colleges were under threat.

His comments in a speech at the British Council follow mounting concerns among universities – especially those that have traditionally recruited heavily from India – that they are seeing a major downturn in applications due to changes in visa policy.

Those changes include the closure of the current post-study work visa in April 2012 and a crackdown on private colleges, both of which are being blamed for creating a perception that the UK is “closed for business”.

“It is vital – notwithstanding the need to prevent any abuse of our immigration system – to continue attracting overseas students to the UK. This is a market in which we excel, thanks to the global standing of our colleges and universities,” Mr Cable said.

“The outside world should know that our academic institutions and our government welcome genuine international students, and are planning for long term growth.

“There is no visa limit on the number of overseas students who are eligible to study here. The recent immigration reforms are designed to cut out the bogus applicants and poor quality colleges which have damaged the reputation of the sector; they are certainly not designed to undermine legitimate and quality colleges.”

Mr Cable also pointed to research from the University of Oxford showing that international students were not generally thought of by the public as immigrants, while arguing that they helped “enhance the campus experience of their UK-born colleagues”.

However, he also said moves such as universities setting up more foreign campuses would become increasingly important, with such “trans-national education exports”, which were worth around £210 million in 2009-10, potentially growing to an estimated £850 million by 2025.

simon.baker@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

Featured Jobs

Senior Lecturer in Human Genetics LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY
Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY
Lecturer in Biochemistry LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY
Professor in Marketing UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW

Most Commented

Artist Frank Boelter sitting in life-size paper boat

Creator of crowdfunding teaching tool says entrepreneurship courses should drop the traditional business plan as a method of assessment

Social media icons

Gabriel Egan laments the narcissistic craving for others’ approval brought on, he says, by the use of social networking websites

Elly Walton illustration (25 August 2016)

Treating students as consumers has precipitated a rush to the bottom to give them exactly what they want, says John Warren

Superhero costumes hanging on a washing line

Senior management do not recognise support staff’s pivotal role in achieving positive student outcomes, administrators say

Man photocopying a book

Students think it ‘unfair’ to be punished for unintentional plagiarism