Leading academic criticises UK immigration rules

immigration, student, tier 4 09 October 2014

The vice-chancellor of Oxford University has criticised the UK’s immigration system, arguing that it is deterring international students from seeking an education here.

In a speech to an audience of academics, Professor Andrew Hamilton said that, when he travels abroad, he is always asked "why has the UK adopted a visa system so hostile to student entry?" He comments "the question baffles me as well."

Prof. Hamilton argued that the current policy of restricting international student numbers is harming the UK, particularly its universities.

International students not only make valuable financial contributions to university coffers but also to the regional economies where they study. They also help to build relationships between the UK and their home countries. Additionally, they aid vital higher-education research that benefits the UK and other countries.

As we reported in a recent article, the general public in the UK do not consider international students as immigrants and do not think their numbers should be cut. Prof Hamilton highlighted this, stating "Student migration simply isn’t an issue for them and there are few votes in restricting overseas student numbers... There are signs that this reality is beginning to dawn across the political spectrum - something to be welcomed and encouraged ahead of the election.

Continuing his annual speech, Prof Hamilton urged politicians to end student migration targets. He also emphasised the need for research-based evidence to be used in the formation of policies, including immigration policies.

Commenting on these issues, a Home Office spokesperson said "The UK is open to the brightest and best and we have been very clear that there is no limit on the number of international students who can study in the UK", adding that the notion that the current system is putting off international students was "not borne out by the facts".

However, international students are included in net immigration reduction targets - despite the public not viewing such students as part of the immigration problem.

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