Foreign students should leave UK after course completion, says May
Home secretary Theresa May wants to reduce overseas university students who stay on in the UK after they graduate, it was announced today. May will back a plan that requires foreign students to leave the country after their course in complete. The proposal is being considered for the next Conservative Party manifesto.
Currently, international students can stay in the UK for up to four months after the end of the course. If they secure graduate employment they can switch from a student visa to a work visa.
May believes this regulation is being abused and fuelling net immigration with many students staying in Britain illegally after their university course, according to the BBC.
However Labour argues that the foreign students bring “billions of investment” into Britain.
Under May’s new plans, students outside of the EU will have to return to their home country when their student visa expires and re-apply if they wish to take up graduate employment.
The tough proposals included in the next Tory manifesto are a signal of the party’s determination to curb immigration following a target set by the prime minister David Cameron to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands by the next election.
A Home Office source said: “Making sure immigrants leave Britain at the end of their visa is as important a part of running a fair and efficient immigration system as controlling who comes here in the first place.”
The proposal will seek to ensure colleges and universities that sponsor foreign students enforce their departure. While institutions with low departure rates will be fined and deprived of rights to sponsor international students.
Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable has warned that proposals such as these are in danger of damaging the economically important recruitment of overseas students to the UK.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper agrees that more needs to be done to stop people overstaying illegally when their visas run out, but this proposal was not the answer.
Cooper said: “Theresa May should be cracking down on illegal working, bringing in proper exit checks, and recruiting 1,000 more borders staff – as Labour has called for – to make sure visas are enforced. As a result she is trying to reduce overseas university students who benefit the economy whilst ignoring the fact that illegal immigration is getting worse and serious criminals are being given British citizenship.