Britain's Migration Policy Risks Undermining the University Sector, Business Warns - Latest Global News

Britain’s Migration Policy Risks Undermining the University Sector, Business Warns

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Business leaders have warned the Prime Minister that the government’s migration policy risks weakening Britain’s university sector, destroying a key reason for companies to invest in the country.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak, bosses of groups including miners Anglo American and Rio Tinto and industrial group Siemens said they were “deeply concerned” about widening funding gaps and the decline in international student applications, which are “a result of government policy”.

They said this risked “undermining the positive impact of international students on our skills base, our future workforce and our international influence” and reducing funding available for research and industry collaboration.

The intervention from business leaders came as ministers were urged not to scrap the graduate visa program by the Independent Migration Advisory Committee, which advises the government on migration issues, as it examined the proposal.

The government has considered scrapping the scheme, which allows foreign students to live and work in the UK for up to two years after graduating, amid fears it is being used as a backdoor entry route and pressure from the right-wing conservative party.

Reducing the number of foreign students would cause “significant financial difficulties” for universities and potentially cause some universities to “fail”, the committee said on Tuesday.

However, Brian Bell, the chairman of the committee, added on Wednesday that there was limited “convincing” evidence that people using the graduate visa in the UK is improving the skills levels of the domestic workforce.

In their letter, executives including Stuart Chambers, chairman of FTSE 100 miner Anglo American, which is currently at the center of a £34bn takeover battle, said: “We chose the company because of the talent, skills and innovative ideas that exist there have decided to invest in Great Britain.” found here.

“To maintain global leadership and build a resilient economy, the government must create an environment in which the university sector can thrive and stay at the forefront. There are early but clear warning signs that this position is at risk,” said the letter, which was also signed by Carl Ennis, chairman of Siemens in the UK and Ireland.

Business leaders urged Sunak not to change Britain’s graduate visa system “without a detailed and comprehensive review of the consequences”.

The letter, coordinated by the National Center for Universities and Business, a coalition of universities and businesses, was also signed by Christine Hodgson, chair of the Severn Trent water group. a representative of Rio Tinto, the seventh largest group listed on the London Stock Exchange; and executives from defense electronics group Thales and energy companies EDF and Neptune.

KPMG, Deloitte and HSBC have canceled job offers for some young foreign workers after the government raised the threshold for skilled visa workers from £26,200 to £38,700 earlier this year.

The number of international students paying deposits to study at UK universities has fallen sharply after changes to education visas banned postgraduates from bringing family members, according to industry data.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said this week that the Government had committed billions of pounds of support to higher education and that the sector should focus on education, not immigration.

HMRC data showed that 69 per cent of people using the graduate visa route in 2023 had studied in the UK for a year or less, the spokesman said, adding that the government would respond to the Migration Advisory Committee’s review in due course and will always ensure that the sector provides highly qualified graduates.

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