Cap on non-EU immigrants 'may harm universities'

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The international reputation of Britain's universities could be jeopardised by plans to cap the numbers of foreign students, academics fear.

They issued their warning as the Immigration minister, Damian Green, promised further curbs on entry into Britain after research showed a fifth of people admitted on student visas were still in the UK five years later. He said "unsustainable" levels of net migration, which leapt by a fifth last year to 196,000, must be brought down and "all routes into the UK" must be studied to ensure only the "brightest and best" migrants came to Britain to study and work. Cash-strapped universities rely increasingly on income from overseas students and this autumn has seen a 9.6 per cent rise in non-EU applications.

Nicola Dandridge of Universities UK, said: "Any changes that may hinder the mobility of international students will damage the success of UK universities."

Sally Hunt, of the University and College Union, said: "We need to be able to offer places to the world's best students. The last thing we want to do is send a message that those students are not welcome here."