UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

‘Japa’ Blues: PM Sunak considering crackdown on foreign students to reduce UK immigration

*United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman insists the PM is ‘fully committed’ to bringing overall immigration levels down, blaming ‘unprecedented and unique circumstances’ for the record high

*UK Universities may not survive the move, if…, warn critics

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

UK Prime Minister (PM) Rishi Sunak is considering putting up barriers for international students bringing dependents and studying “low-quality degrees” in a bid to reduce net migration in the United Kingdom (UK).

ConsumerConnect gathered PM Sunak is mulling a crackdown on foreign students after net migration has reached its highest level since the World War II, Sky News report said.

Cross-sections of international students in the UK Universities and Colleges 

Downing Street disclosed that plans to bring numbers down could include putting up barriers against students bringing their dependents and cutting school admissions to “low-quality” degree courses in the country.

It was learnt this move is in line with proposals being explored by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who has previously complained about foreign students “bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa” and “propping up, frankly, substandard courses in inadequate institutions”.

British students’ high fees cum potential bankruptcy in UK universities

In view of the development, nonetheless, critics have warned, that universities could go bankrupt and British students could face higher tuition fees as a result the government’s proposal to cut down on immigration.

Prof. Brian Bell, Chairman of the British Government’s Migration Advisory Committee, told Today on BBC Radio 4: “Most universities for most courses lose money on teaching British students and offset that loss by charging more for international students.

Foreign students on campus

“If you close down the international route I’m not sure how the university continues to survive.”

Although London, Cambridge and Oxford would do well, if overseas students were only allowed places at “elite” universities, he said, poorer regions, particularly those in the north, would suffer.

Bell stressed that it is not just an immigration policy, but also an education policy, as it could lead to a “massive increase” in British students’ fees to make up for the loss of foreign students’ payments.

A No. 10 spokesman declined to say what constitutes a “low-quality” degree when pressed to provide a government definition, report noted.

In respect of the potential policy damage to universities and the economy, the official said: “Of course, we support our universities – they’re some of the very best in the world – and of course we will always act in the best interest of the UK.”

Net migration at record levels in UK, says ONS

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reportedly indicated that net migration in the UK had reached record levels.

An estimated 504,000 more people came than left last year, a figure greater than the population of Liverpool, according to report.

The ONS attributed the rise to “unique” factors,  including visa schemes for Ukrainians and Hong Kong citizens, and more students arriving from outside the European Union after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

People arriving on study visas accounted for the biggest proportion of long-term immigration of non-EU nationals, at 277,000, or 39 percent of the total.

Sunak ‘fully committed’ to reducing overall immigration levels –Spokesman

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman, Thursday, November 24, 2022, insisted Mr. Sunak was “fully committed” to bringing overall immigration levels down and blamed “unprecedented and unique circumstances” for the record high.

The official said: “We’re considering all options to make sure the immigration system is delivering, and that does include looking at the issue of student dependents and low-quality degrees.”

Possible backlash from Department for Education

Meanwhile, such a move by the British Government could meet resistance from the Department for Education.

The Department could raise concerns over universities’ funding, if the number of high fee-paying international students is cut, report stated.

The Russell Group of elite universities told the source that high numbers of foreign students “should be seen as a UK success story” and highlighted official figures showing that those on study visas are 97.5 percent compliant in leaving when their right to remain expires.

However, plans for a student visa crackdown have not moved on since the home secretary said she would look at in October, with the Home Office more focused on tackling small boat crossings – or what it calls “illegal immigration”, according to report.

We’ve failed to control our borders, says Ms. Braverman

A record 40,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK this year, up from 28,561 last year.

Ms. Braverman came in for criticism this week as she reportedly failed to explain the alternative safe and legal routes to the UK for asylum seekers escaping war.

During questioning by Members of Parliament (MPs) at the Home Affairs Select Committee, the Home Secretary admitted that “we have failed to control our borders.”

Braverman insisted: “That’s why the prime minister and myself are absolutely determined to fix this problem.”

It was gathered the UK Government wants to deport migrants to Rwanda for processing to deter people from making the dangerous journey across the Channel – but the plan has been held up by a series of legal challenges.

Under a recent deal struck with France, UK annual payments to Paris to help police the border are set to rise to €72m (£63m) in 2022/23, from €62.7m (£54.8m) for 2021/22, report said.

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