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Excessive restrictions on student visas puts the UK industry at risk, warns NUS

Home Secretary Theresa May has declined to accept an official “impact assessment” that puts the cost to Britain’s economy of her curbs on overseas students at up to £3.6bn.

May has dismissed her own Department’s official assessment of the impact of her policy on overseas student visas, and has instead asked the migration advisory committee for a “better assessment and a better judgment of the true picture”.

Her actions are strongly criticised by MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. However, she is committed to reducing overall annual migration and curbs on overseas student numbers are regarded as essential to achieve this goal.

The MPs jointly stated that ‘despite ministerial promises, the disputed impact assessment, which warns of the £2.4bn cost to the British economy of curbing overseas student visas was not published until 13th June, 12 weeks after the policy was announced’.

In response to the report, the National Union of Students (NUS) stated: “Ministers’ recklessness and knee-jerk policy making risked rendering the UK economically, socially and culturally poorer.”

Christina Yan Zhang, NUS International Students’ Officer, said: “Despite warnings from other ministers, the business community, students, as well as the education institutions who have seen their funding slashed, May has pushed through changes to visas in order to fulfil rash pre-election promises.”

As a result of these changes, the government expects 260,000 fewer study visas to be issued to non-EU students over the next five years.

NUS believes that in order to maintain a place as a global leader in higher education, the UK must continue to attract the very best students and staff from around the world.

Christina Yan Zhang added: “By placing excessive restrictions on international students wanting to come to the UK to study and removing the huge incentive of the option to work in the UK for two years after finishing their course, the Government has put a highly profitable UK industry at unnecessary risk.”

Aastha Gill

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