Vince Cable: Immigration 'panic' puts international students off studying in the UK

 

Public "panic" over immigration is causing economic harm to the UK, Vince Cable has warned.

He said overseas students were being deterred from studying at British institutions and tight visa controls were causing difficulties for foreign experts working in the country.

The Business Secretary said foreign students were being caught up in the "very torrid and emotional" argument about the number of immigrants in the UK.

Mr Cable insisted there was no cap on the number of overseas students but there was a problem of perception.

Speaking at the Global Universities Summit in Westminster, he said the debate over immigration "does incubate these very deep emotional feelings about foreigners".

Highlighting problems with the visa regime, he said: "I was at one of our leading engineering companies a few months ago.

"I was introduced to the chief engineer, who was making the most sophisticated engines for Formula 1 cars and he happened to be Indian, and he was coming to the end of his visa and under the existing rules he was going to have to go back to India and reapply for admission to the UK, right in the middle of a high-pressure contract. It was completely absurd.

"But that is the kind of restriction that is introduced in order to placate public panic that does create an economic harm."

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he wants to see net migration fall to the "tens of thousands" by 2015.

Official figures last week showed that in the year to September 2012 net migration fell, with a 22 per cent decrease in the number of foreign students.

Because overseas students were counted as immigrants under international rules, Mr Cable said their number was "easily translated into a flood of immigrants".

He added: "When, last week, the number declines, this is a great triumph for immigration control, which is quite absurd and unfortunately is seriously distorting the debate on sensible university policy and, indeed, sensible immigration policy.

"I just want to make absolutely clear, as far as the Government is concerned we have no cap on the number of overseas students, we don't propose to introduce one."

He acknowledged there was a "serious problem" of perception which had been caused by the Government's immigration restrictions, particularly in India.

"In India there has been a quite vigorous criticism of the UK, largely I think following the debate in British newspapers and treating that as if it was objective reality, which it isn't necessarily," Mr Cable said.

"In some of the Indian vernacular newspapers the message has gone out that the British no longer want Indian students, which is wrong but that's the message that has gone out."

There had been a "substantial" reduction in the number of Indian students as a result, he added.

Mr Cable's concerns about a reduction in foreign students were echoed by London Mayor Boris Johnson at the same event.

Mr Johnson said: "I looked at the recent figures for foreign students coming to this country and I do not regard what seemed to me to be a reduction in those numbers as necessarily a positive economic indicator.

"I think we need to push higher education as a great, great international export and we need to be even more open in our dealings with other HE institutions around the world."

PA

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Year 2 Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Bognor Regis!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Year 2 Teacher currently need...

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits