Theresa May: rules ‘must be enforced’ on overseas students

Home secretary takes swipe at university ‘lobbyists’ but no mention about speculation that she has lost support of Cameron on students being included in net migration count

October 6, 2015

Theresa May has told universities in a speech to the Conservative Party conference that she “doesn’t care” what their “lobbyists” say on overseas students.

The home secretary made the comments in relation to international students not returning to their home countries after the expiry of visas as she insisted that the rules needed to be “enforced”.

Her speech came as a report in today’s Times suggested that David Cameron has “abandoned support” for Ms May on her insistence that overseas students continue to be included in the government’s net migrant target.

Ms May’s speech did not mention overseas students in the context of the net migrant count, but she did deliver criticism of the sector on those overstaying their visas.

The UK welcomed the brightest students from around the world, she said.

“But the fact is too many are not returning home as soon as their visas run out,” she continued.

“I don’t care what the university lobbyists say. The rules must be enforced. Students, yes; overstayers, no.”

There has been speculation from some in the sector that the Home Office wants universities to take over responsibility for ensuring that graduates leave the country once their courses are finished.

And there are also suggestions that if the government is preparing for an announcement that students will be removed from the net migrant count, then Ms May will exact a heavy price on other measures of student visa tightening in return.

Responding to Ms May’s speech, Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said that the organisation agreed “care must be taken” to ensure students are genuine and said institutions “take their responsibilities as sponsors very seriously”.

But she added: “While genuine international students in the UK continue to be caught up in efforts to bear down on immigration, it will feed the perception internationally that the UK is closed for business and does not welcome students.

“As the foreign secretary suggested last month, one step the government could take would be to remove international students from their net migration target.

“International students and staff make an enormous contribution to the UK, academically, culturally and economically. Reducing the number of genuine international students would have a substantial and negative impact on towns and cities across the UK, on businesses, jobs and on our world-class universities.”

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Reader's comments (2)

While the British Govt, seats on its high horse and think graduate international students from high and middle class back ground who have paid an average of 12,000 pounds a year studying in the UK are dying to remain in the UK as overstayers it's just ridiculous. How do you graduate with a Bachelor, Masters or even PhD and then stay back in the UK with no job or legal status /rights? Does May know how horrendous it is to be an illegal immigrants in the UK,? I bet she knows, but she keeps acting like every students wants to overstay in the UK, otherwise Mrs May, may actually be out of her mind or she is just using the narrative an immigration sensitive UK would rather hear. However be that as it may,with the rise and opening up of other more hospitable study destinations in Europe, Canada, America and Australia that actually have a better understanding of what international students bring to the table, the UK will be the loser in due time. As once a UK student, a parent and an adviser who has helped over a thousand students to study at UK Universities, with virtually all of them now back home working, building enterprise or progressing on further studies, guess what the reply to Mrs May statement would be from future potential international students? , It's will be "no to UK Universities, " period! - and tell May she don't need to worry about overstayers, Syrian, and Libyan refugees are heading her way, and once they can get into the UK they would ramp up the numbers of net migrants. Trust me, ones they get it, they would never get out. ENJOY BRITIAN In the words of Oxford VC Hamilton: “If politicians do not fully understand what a jewel they have in British higher education, they risk throwing it away”
Theresa May doesn't welcome international students, she doesn't want people to come to UK, it's fine, international students can look for somewhere else such as Australia, USA and Canada, these countries are more student friendly and they also have world tops universities too.