Mayor of London Boris Johnson says the Government's UK visa policy sends the 'wrong signal' to prospective international students.
26 November 2012
Boris Johnson - UK visa policy 'sending wrong signal'
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said the Government's UK visa policy changes are damaging the country's reputation and ability to attract top international students.
Mr Johnson said earlier this month that the Government's efforts to tackle high rates of UK immigration by targeting international students were 'completely crazy' and has reiterated his disappointment in his own party's policies this week during a visit to India.
"The policy on visas is, in my view, sending the wrong signal," said Mr Johnson. "There are so many stipulations that we are starting to lose business to Australia, America and Canada.
"The extra stipulations, such as the need to have a salary of up to a certain amount before you are allowed to stay on mean we need to be very careful that we are not doing stuff that actively deters foreign students and at the moment the policy seems to put people off."
International education in the UK is a multi-billion pound a year industry but Mr Johnson says the Government's changes to policy - which have included the introduction of salary thresholds and the removal of post study work rights - have already resulted in a 9% drop in applications from India this year, a trend which is expected to continue next year.
"I have written several times to the Home Secretary, we need to see a strong statement of welcome to make sure that the visa system is not a deterrent to international students."
However, the British high commissioner to India, Sir James Bevan, has moved to reassure Indian students that despite Boris Johnson's comments, the UK remains committed to its international education industry.
"We are committed to reducing net migration to the United Kingdom, and we have dealt firmly with bogus colleges and fake students, but we have set no limit on the numbers of genuine foreign students who can come to Britain. No limit," said Sir James.
"Most Indians who apply for a student visa get one. We issued over 30,000 student visas here in India last year and 75 per cent of those who applied were successful."
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.