Financial Times coverage of Tier 4 Consultation
9 February 2011

Following the cross-sectoral press conference and Home Affairs Select Committee meetings last week, the Financial Times has published editorial about the opposition to the Government's proposals to introduce tighter rules for student visas.

In an article published on 6 February entitled, 'Universities attack immigration policy', it was reported that universities are questioning the government's figures and criticising its attempt to further raise the English language level for Tier 4 visas.

The article said: "Between a third and half of all non-EEA students who come to the UK attend pre-degree courses, often to improve language skills before they start their degrees. But, Prof Acton [vice-chancellor at the University of East Anglia] estimated, 70 per cent of the intake for these courses would no longer be eligible for a visa. Home Office figures have come under attack from academics. Net student immigration was 139,000 in 2009, according to the government. But while it has inflow data, it relies on contested assumptions and data sources to estimate outflows."

The article also said that universities were calling for a new emphasis on their role as engines of economic growth. Malcolm Grant, provost of University College London was quoted as saying: "One would have thought that if the objective of the government were to concentrate on key points of economic growth, universities would be among their highest priorities."

In another article published on 6 February entitled, 'Cameron's costly migration policy', the government's policy to reduce non-EU net migration to fewer than 100,000 per year was discussed, and the importance of international students to the UK was emphasised.

The article states: "Education is an important source of British soft power. The UK is second only to the US as a destination for the more than 3m students worldwide enrolled at universities and colleges outside their home country. International student numbers are still increasing rapidly. Britain should not lose its chance to pursue the best brains, regardless of nationality."

In terms of the economic benefits of international students, the article says: "High levels of migration to the UK have not harmed the economy. Students, in particular, are a boon: they eat, drink and spend money, but do not drive down wages or weigh heavily on public services."

A further article appeared in the Financial Times on 7 February entitled 'Language schools hit by licence suspension'.

To view the full articles on the Financial Times website, please use the links below.

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