Foreign Students: Not Welcome Here?


The Government’s decision to use an administrative sledgehammer to crack the nut of relatively minor possible abuses of Universities student visa’s is a disgrace.

The Government has suspended the right of the London Metropolitan University to OK visas for foreign students.

The Borders Agency claims that its audit has established that some students have not met the (rapidly changing) rules about accepting foreign students. Because of infractions, they have suspended LMUs licence.

But there is a simple question here – if the Agency can identify individual students who have not been properly issued with visas – as they claim they have – why have they not simply targeted those students? Instead, by stopping all LMU foreign students including those who are here perfectly legitimately.

Throwing out students who are here perfectly legally, and have spent a small fortune for their education up to this point, will affect thousands thinking about choosing the UK for their education.

So this decision is both immoral and impractical.

The only real question is cock-up or conspiracy. the cock-up version would be that this is just an example of incompetent application of new rules in a cack-handed way. The conspiracy version is this is a clear diversionary tactic by the Government. They have no chance of meeting their ludicrous net migration targets, but this controversy shifts the debate away from the Governments responsibility to focusing on the Universities – which by any measure are responsible for a tiny fraction of the “problem”. I’m genuinely not sure which it is, quite possibly is that it’s a bit of both.

I recently spent time in Australia. Their policy is that anyone who goes there to do a Masters gets an automatic right to stay. In the long term this will be a huge gain to their economy and society. In the UK we seem to be hanging up a big “Not Welcome Here” notice for foreign students.

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About Colin Talbot

Professor of Government at the University of Manchester, England.
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