Rishi Sunak plans restrictions on foreign students to control migration: report

The Sunak government has promised to reduce net migration in the UK. (File)

According to a BBC report, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will consider “all options” including reducing the number of foreign students to curb rising net migration in the UK.

Mr Sunak will consider imposing restrictions on foreign students pursuing so-called “inferior” degrees and following dependents, the report said, citing a Downing Street spokesman. However, the speaker did not define what a “low quality” degree is.

The UK government’s concerns about rising migration were eased by the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week, which showed a huge increase in the number of migrants. Net migration to the UK rose from 173,000 in 2021 to 504,000 this year – up from 331,000.

International students, especially Indians, who for the first time took over from the Chinese to make up the majority of student visas, contributed greatly to this increase.

“We are considering all options to ensure the immigration system works. The Prime Minister is determined to bring the totals down,” Mr Sunak’s spokesman had said on Friday.

But controlling the number of migrants by limiting the number of foreign students is a tricky task. British universities are relying on higher fees from international students to make up for the money they lose by charging British students a lower fee, with some universities even risking bankruptcy if restrictions on so-called inferior degrees are imposed, the in said the report.

A community-led student organization on Friday called on the government to remove international students from the country’s immigration statistics. “Students staying in the UK temporarily should not be counted as migrants. International students, of which Indians are the largest cohort, bring £30 billion in net revenue to the UK economy,” said Sanam Arora, Chair of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK.

The Sunak government has promised to reduce net migration in the UK, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who is from India, having previously complained about the overage of Indian students in the country. “I have concerns about having an open border migration policy with India because I don’t think people voted for it on Brexit. Look at migration in this country – the largest group of people who stay too long are Indian migrants,” she had said.

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