The British public do not see international students as “immigrants” and are opposed to reducing the number coming here, even if this would make it harder to reduce immigration numbers, according to new research released today by Universities UK and think-tank British Future.Lord Bilimoria, a former international student and the Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, issued the following statement about the report’s findings;
This report is music to my ears – I feel completely vindicated in that it has affirmed exactly what I have been saying repeatedly about the hugely negative impact of the coalition government’s policy on international students in the United Kingdom.
Most importantly, the report clearly proves that the overwhelming majority of the British people appreciate the importance of international students in this country, as well as the enormous and important benefits that they bring to the British economy, to our universities and to wider society on the whole!
It clearly affirms that the government should – as I have been saying repeatedly, as have my cross-party colleagues in the House of Lords – that the government should remove international students from their net-migration targets and from the immigration figures.
The government should, as I have said in speeches in the House, set a target to increase the number of international students coming to Britain, in the way that so many of our international competitor countries are doing.
Britain needs to send out a world-wide signal that we are welcoming to and want international students. The report also shows that the two-year, post-graduation work visa for international students, which I played a role in helping to introduce in 2007, should be re-introduced, as the public see benefit in this to the British economy and to British businesses.
It also shows the benefit of building bridges between international students and Britain in the generations to come – something I am particularly aware of as I am the third-generation of my family in India to be educated in Britain.
I have said consistently for the past four years that the government’s immigration cap is a crude and blunt instrument that unfortunately tars everyone with the same brush, including our international students.
I, along with so many of my colleagues in the House of Lords, have been repeatedly ignored and not listened to by the government; this report now clearly shows all of the positive feelings that the British public feel towards international students.
The government now has to listen and must change their damaging policies; I hope that they will immediately implement the recommendations of this report.
By Lord Bilimoria
Independent Crossbench Peer
Chancellor of the University of Birmingham
Founder and Chairman of Cobra Beer