UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will consider “all options”, including reducing the number of foreign students, in his bid to reduce rising net migration to the UK, according to BBC report.
Mr Sunak will consider imposing restrictions on foreign students pursuing so-called “low-quality” degrees and attracting dependents, the report said, citing a Downing Street spokesman. However, the spokesperson did not provide a definition of what a “low quality” grade is.
The UK government’s concerns about rising migration were offset by the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week, which showed a huge jump in migrant numbers. Net migration to the UK has risen from 173,000 in 2021 to 504,000 this year – an increase of 331,000.
Foreign students, especially Indians, who for the first time overtook Chinese to make up the majority of student visas, contributed greatly to this surge.
“We are considering all options to make sure the immigration system works. The prime minister is fully committed to reducing the overall number,” Mr Sunak’s spokesman said on Friday.
But controlling the number of migrants by limiting the number of foreign students is a difficult task. British universities rely on higher fees from international students to make up the money, they are losing out by charging British students a lower fee, with some universities even risking bankruptcy if restrictions are imposed on so-called low-quality degrees, it has been said in the report.
Ann A student organization run by the Indian community on Friday called on the government to remove international students from the country’s immigration statistics. “Students who are temporarily in the UK should not be considered migrants. International students, of which Indians are the largest group, bring a net income of £30 billion to the UK economy,” said Sanam Arora, President of the National Organization of Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK.
Sunak’s government has pledged to reduce net migration to the UK with the home secretary from India Suella Braverman earlier complained about Indian students overstaying in the country. “I have concerns about an open border migration policy with India because I don’t think people voted for that with Brexit. Look at the migration in this country – the largest group of people who stay outside the country are Indian migrants,” she said.
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