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Higher Education and Research Bill - Committee (6th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:45 pm on 25th January 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Garden of Frognal Baroness Garden of Frognal Deputy Chairman of Committees 7:45 pm, 25th January 2017

My Lords, I have added my name to this amendment; I strongly support the words that we have heard from the noble Lords, Lord Hannay and Lord Patten. I, too, will try to be helpful because this amendment highlights the significant impact of international students and their contribution to the success of UK universities. It builds on Amendment 127, which I spoke to earlier in Committee, so I shall curtail my remarks at this stage.

As has been said, counting international students in migration targets is a poor policy choice. It damages the reputations of UK universities. There seems to be universal agreement that it should be reversed and that other countries do not treat their students in this way. We will doubtless hear from the Government that there is no limit on the number of international students who can come into the country. The trouble is that they follow that up by saying, “But we will count them in immigration targets and we are intent on reducing immigration”. This sends very mixed and misleading messages to students who are left mystified about this but feeling generally unwelcome. It does not help now that we make them leave the country as soon as they finish their studies, rather than staying on to make some postgraduate contribution to the country.

Our messages are unwelcoming and overseas students hear those unwelcoming messages. We understand that these decisions are within the Home Office, not within the department the Minister represents, but we ask him to take back to his colleagues in the Home Office—or, indeed, to his right honourable friend the Prime Minister—how very strongly this House feels that these measures should be changed.