Report criticises proposed changes to student visa system

Proposed changes to the student visa system may be used as a political tool to create the “appearance” of a significant reduction in net migration, a new report claims.

February 22, 2011

The analysis from the Institute for Public Policy Research, published today, says there is “a risk that the proposed changes will impose substantial (and very real) costs on the education sector and wider economy simply to deliver reductions in migration statistics.”

The remarks refer to plans to restrict Tier 4 student visas, which universities fear will result in a drastic decline in the number of students coming to the UK.

The government insisted that the clampdown was not aimed at higher education, but universities said they feared that even if it was focused on courses below degree level it could impact on the flow of students from preparatory courses.

Today’s report, Student Migration in the UK, highlights discrepancies between immigration figures cited by the government and other data sources, which it claims are more accurate. According to the IPPR, “arrivals data suggest that international student immigration numbers have been more-or-less stable for at least a decade”.

This is at odds with the claim in the government consultation document that the number of students admitted had increased by 70 per cent in 10 years.

The report says that this claim stems from a calculation that includes “student visitors” – which was introduced as a new immigration category in 2007 – in the figures for 2009.

“The 1999 data is therefore not comparable with the 2009 statistic used in the government’s consultation document,” concludes the report, which was commissioned by Universities UK. “Once student visitors are excluded, arrivals data show that student admissions in 2009 were about the same as in 1999.”

The report also says that cutting the number of international students by half would only reduce net migration to the UK by 40,000.

Noting the government’s aim of reducing total net migration “from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands”, the authors say the political debate around migration has come “to focus more on esoteric questions of statistics and principle than on real migration flows or their real impacts”.

The report is the second in a week to oppose the government’s visa plans.

A study published last week by the Higher Education Policy Institute and written by Edward Acton, vice-chancellor of the University of East Anglia, accuses elements of the government’s visa controls of having “an ugly taste of apartheid” about them.

sarah.cunnane@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 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

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study