The immigration minister Damian Green has announced a crackdown on students entering the UK from overseas. The intention is to only allow the best and brightest students access to higher education in the UK.
What’s a shame is that this reform of the foreign student entry requirements is being dragged into a nationalistic debate over immigration – the focus being on the thousands of people who remain in the UK long after their course has finished.
Green said: “Why are they staying on? What are they staying on to do? This is part of a wider look we need to take at the immigration system.”
Why are they staying on indeed? Why doesn’t he ask some students to see what they say even as they being their course?
The UK is an attractive place to study. English is the language used for study and daily life, and even though the universities charge non-EU students a lot more than Europeans, a British education remains good value compared to American colleges.
Many students will come to the UK for all these reasons, plus they have a desire to find a job in the UK once they graduate. That doesn’t always happen, but by studying in the UK and having access to employers locally, it can be a strong possibility.
I can understand Green’s desire to control immigration – it’s a populist move – but I don’t think we should be frightened of graduates coming through the university system. Most graduates struggle to find decent work anyway because they have very little work experience, imagine adding the requirement for a work visa to that and you can see that it’s not an automatic gravy train for immigrants.
If Green really wants to target bogus immigration then he should steer clear of the universities and focus on the so-called ‘colleges’ that teach basic IT or English. The teaching quality of many of these colleges is highly dubious, yet a student can enrol on a course and get a visa to stay in the UK – allowing limited working hours.
It doesn’t help the student who might expect a decent level of education, or the UK job seekers who claim that migrants have displaced their jobs. Seek out the bogus colleges, but don’t tar all universities with the same brush – the UK reaps huge rewards from foreign students bringing their skills over here.