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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The threat to Higher Education posed by Tory policies

Today's Independent reports that Theresa May is under mounting pressure to remove foreign students from the immigration figures after MPs warned that her refusal to do so is damaging Britain’s world class universities.

They say that a report by the cross-party Education Select Committee calls for overseas students to be recorded “under a separate classification and not be counted against the overall [migration] limit":

Suggesting that Ms May is isolated on the issue, the MPs say: “There is widespread support for treating international students as temporary rather than permanent migrants: from the public, Parliament, and parts of the Government.” It highlights remarks by the Brexiteer ministers Boris Johnson and Liam Fox in favour of taking the students out of the figures.

Amid Cabinet tensions over immigration, the Prime Minister may have to compromise in order to push the Higher Education and Research Bill through before Parliament is dissolved for the general election. Unless she makes concessions, the House of Lords, which voted for an amendment saying foreign students should not be treated as migrants, could block the Bill.

Although Ms May last week reaffirmed her commitment to the Government’s target to reduce net migration to under 100,000 a year, it is unclear whether the figure will be included in the Conservative Party's manifesto. The Independent understands that some ministers, who believe the goal will never be achieved, are pressing for a vaguer pledge to reduce migration to “sustainable levels.”

The obsession with immigration is badly damaging higher education as well as other sectors such as the NHS. It is time the Tories woke up and acted to put this right.
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