Oxford v-c: UK immigration policy is ‘baffling’

The head of the University of Oxford has said he is “baffled” by the UK’s “hostile” student visa system, and called for a shift to evidence-based policymaking

October 7, 2014

Giving the vice-chancellor’s annual oration to the institution, Andrew Hamilton questioned the political decisions that have led to a decline in the number of students coming to the UK from India in particular.

He said that current immigration policy is harming the country’s interests, adding that the public do not think of students when they think about migration.

This is now “beginning to dawn across the political spectrum”, which is good news ahead of the general election, he said.

Professor Hamilton said that UK higher education is “an attractive commodity in the world market” and he questioned why in a time of “continued economic constraint” there was a limit on “one of our most effective generators of overseas revenue”.

He added: “Wherever I travel in the world, particularly in China and India, one question persists. Why has the UK adopted a visa system so hostile to student entry? I do my best to answer but, frankly, the question baffles me as well.

“For the first time in decades, the number of international students at our universities has dropped, most markedly from India. Why are we doing this to them – and to ourselves?”

He said that research from Oxford’s Migration Observatory found that overseas student numbers and immigration issues are not linked in the minds of the public.

“Study is the least frequent answer given when the public are asked what they consider the motives for migration to be. Student migration simply isn’t an issue for them,” Professor Hamilton said.

The Oxford vice-chancellor called for political parties to use research-based evidence to form their immigration election policies, and also argued for more public investment in universities.

The latest figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development suggest that public spending in higher education is 0.9 per cent of GDP, which is below the OECD average and among the lowest in Europe. Investment in research and development is “equally dismaying”, he added.

“Underinvestment in higher education is a false economy,” Professor Hamilton said. “Private investment should complement government research funding, and not be perceived as an alternative.”

holly.else@tesglobal.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 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
Register

Reader's comments (1)

It is strange that the speech, at least as summarised here, did not mention the recent large scale abuse of the FE sector for purposes of work-related immigration by foreign "students", as reported on Panorama and elsewhere, which must contribute to negative public perceptions of the issue.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns