The vice-chancellor of Cambridge University has warned that a hostile attitude towards migration risks deterring students from studying in Britain.
Professor Leszek Borysiewicz warned of an emerging perception, particularly in India, that Britain was no longer welcoming to foreign students.
"When I think of how my parents were welcomed to this country, I find that actually quite saddening,” he said in an interview with The Guardian. “I do feel we are an open, democratic country and we should be setting the standards for the rest of the world, not hindering them."
His comments come amid fractious debate over immigration, sparked by the triumph of Ukip in the European elections. Borysiewicz, 63, was born and grew up in Cardiff, born to Polish immigrant parents. "My parents made very clear from almost day one that they felt the future for my sister and myself was very much in Britain," he said.
The new wave of Poles arriving in the UK since Poland joined the EU more than a decade ago were similarly "establishing those roots to be accepted within society", he said. “One of Britain's greatest strengths has been in the way it has assimilated so many different communities, and we are a very plural and open society," he added.