Immigration crackdowns could put off international students

TIER 4, student, students 10 May 2013
On Wednesday, the Queen made a speech at the State Opening of Parliament that focused on measures to control immigration. However, some are saying that these measures have the potential to deter international students from studying in the UK.

The speech laid out the government's legislative agenda for 2014, which will include several new immigration controls. The Queen told MPs that the Immigration Bill's aims were to "ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deter those who will not".

Two of the most controversial measures in the Bill will regulate use of the NHS for illegal immigrants and make the deportation process easier. Other measures include preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining diving licenses and tougher fines for businesses that employ illegal staff. There will also be a requirement for private landlords to check tenants' immigration statuses.

However, there are fears that international students may be put off from considering studying in the UK due to these latest immigration crackdowns. David Stevens, the officer for international students at the National Union of Students (NUS), told the Huffington Post UK: "International students are an important addition to UK universities but the government continues to make them feel unwelcome with ever more onerous restrictions." He added that international students were being treated "like a political football" and used as a soft target to remove from immigration statistics.

As well as the effect on the students themselves, the new controls may have wider repercussions on the UK as a whole. Not only do international students contribute a heavy proportion to the funding of UK universities, but they also support jobs in university towns and, if they are able to obtain a work visa after graduation, can become skilled workers in the UK's workforce. International students also help to develop relationships and cultural exchanges between the UK and other countries.

Several MPs have argued that the UK needs to be more open to international students and that this category needs removing from migration targets. Last year, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said that the policy on visas was "sending out the wrong signal" and that the UK was starting to "lose business to Australia, America and Canada." He also commented that the visa system should not be a deterrent to international students.

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