‘Harmful’ UK student visa policy ‘baffles’ top academic

The BBC is reporting that the vice-chancellor of Oxford University has told an audience of academics that the UK’s policy on student visas is ‘baffling’…

Prof Andrew Hamilton said when he travelled abroad “one question persists – why has the UK adopted a visa system so hostile to student entry?”

“I do my best to answer but, frankly, the question baffles me as well.”

The Home Office said the idea the visa system deterred international students was “not borne out by the facts”.

But Prof Hamilton said the policy of limiting international student numbers was now harming the UK.

“For the first time in decades, the number of international students at our universities has dropped, most markedly from India,” he said.

“Why are we doing this to them – and to ourselves?”

The government’s policy of tightening up the student visa system has been criticised as damaging to the ability of UK universities to recruit economically valuable international students.

Prof Hamilton used his annual oration to the university to urge political parties to end student migrant targets and to use research-based evidence in forming election policies, particularly on immigration.

He cited recent research by Oxford’s Migration Observatory, which, he argued, showed the public did not link overseas student numbers with immigration issues.

“Study is the least frequent answer given when the public are asked what they consider the motives for migration to be,” Prof Hamilton said.

“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.”

…A Home Office spokesman said there had been “significant increases in students from countries such as China, Brazil and Malaysia”…

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Do you agree with Prof Hamilton that the student visa policy is both unnecessary and an own goal or is there a valid counter argument? Do we need to encourage as many overseas students as possible to maintain incomes and standards at UK universities? Please tell us how you see it in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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