David Miliband Slams Student Visa Restrictions
David Miliband has slammed the recent government changes to the visa system that make it harder for international students to study in the UK. Speaking to Times Higher Education, the ex-foreign secretary argued that the changes are "curtailing the attractiveness of British higher education, [and] doing a great injury to our future".
International students have recently been dragged in to the immigration debate in the UK, due to the fact they are currently counted in the regular net migration figures. This has been a problem ever since the government pledged to cut immigration to under 100,000- a policy Mr Miliband called a "political slogan" rather than a "sensible" immigration policy.
Prominent figures in higher education have been arguing that international students should not be counted in these figures, though so far these calls have fallen on deaf ears. Instead Prime Minister David Cameron has introduced a number of new restrictions on both study and post-study work visas for non-EU students.
Mr Miliband has questioned the wisdom of such policies, saying:
"What I feel passionately about is the overall policy of restricting visas for students, curtailing the rights of students to work after they complete university, and the economic, social and educational cost to the country".
He argued that "higher education is one of our biggest assets" and that the new restrictions are damaging the reputation of the sector. Critics of the changes argue that they give the impression foreign students are no longer welcome in Britain- an idea Mr Miliband has backed:
"Every university I visit tells me that Britain is handing students over to American, Australian, even German universities at a cost to our own society as well as our own educational institutions."
David Miliband was speaking at the University of Reading as part of a tour of 30 universities he has visited in the last year to promote politics amongst students.