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Labour right to demand international students removed from migration target

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has called for university students to be removed immediately from the net migration target.

Mark Hilton, Head of Immigration Policy at business group London First, said removing international students from migration caps couldn’t come soon enough.

“The number of overseas students starting courses in England has fallen for the first time in almost 30 years, partly because of the perception abroad that we don’t want the brightest and best coming here to study,” he said.

“Higher education is the UK’s eighth biggest export industry and it’s predicted the total number of tertiary students studying abroad will almost double to 7m by 2020.

“But the signs are foreign students are increasingly turning to competitor countries like the US and Australia instead of the UK because of the barriers we are putting in the way and the message we are sending out that the UK has taken in the welcome mat.

“We actually need to go further than Ms Cooper suggests and include genuine students wanting to come to further education colleges and language schools as well.”

In her speech to the IPPR she said:

“…we want to see more fee paying university students. Higher education is one of Britain’s biggest exports worth over £10 billion a year. And business leaders from across the globe were educated at Britain’s universities.

“At a time when our economy has only just started to grow, and when growth is still unbalanced, we should be making the most of our investment from across the world, and attracting the best and brightest from across the globe to study here and build strong business links with Britain.

“So it is deeply damaging to our economy that the number of fee paying overseas students has fallen at a time when the international market is growing.

“That is why university students should be removed immediately from the net migration target. And why we will consult on applying different targets and controls to different kinds of immigration so we can help our Universities compete in a growing global market.”

Read more about London First’s work on immigration

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