Take students out of immigration target, say prospective Tory MPs

Eight out of 10 prospective Tory MPs think the government should not target international students in the drive to reduce net migration.

June 30, 2014

The finding comes in a survey of Conservative candidates for the 2015 general election – excluding sitting MPs – by the Higher Education Policy Institute.

Nick Hillman, the Hepi director and former special adviser to David Willetts, said all three main political parties should commit to removing international students from any targets to reduce net migration in their 2015 election manifestoes, while the Home Office should be obliged to share responsibility for the area with other government departments.

The survey found that 78 per cent of Conservative candidates think international students should be excluded from any target for reducing migration; and that 69 per cent think the UK should aim to recruit all legitimate international students, not just the brightest and best.

But it also found that 88 per cent of Tory candidates think international students should not automatically be allowed to stay in the UK to work after their studies for a time-limited period – the post-study work option which universities want revived.

Sixty-eight candidates were asked to respond and 18 did so.

Nick Hillman, the Hepi director and former special adviser to David Willetts, said: “The Home Office’s approach to foreign students is not just out of line with voters, it is apparently out of line even with the Conservatives’ own election candidates.”

He added that the “whole university sector must redouble its efforts to explain the benefits that post-study work can offer”.

Mr Hillman also identified “three practical things that could be done now” to address the situation on international students, the first being a pledge from all three political parties to take them out of migration targets.

The second was that politicians “should portray any necessary rules on international students as part of a wider strategy to strengthen protection for international students, rather than as further reasons for people to stay away”.

And the third was that “the Home Office should be obliged to share responsibility for student migration with other government departments, so that it becomes more than a numbers game – the Treasury and the Foreign Office know the issue is also about trade and the UK’s soft power and they should be at the table every time new rules are discussed”.

Mr Hillman added: “As a nation, we’re as good at education as we are at making things. But we don’t put artificial barriers on manufacturers’ exports and we shouldn’t put any in the way of legitimate students who could contribute to the UK by studying in our world-class higher education system.”

The results of the survey come just days after the Home Office suspended the visa sponsorship licences of one university and 57 private colleges in the wake of an investigation into falsified English language tests.


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

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest