Immigration policy targets universities as well as students
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Last week, London Metropolitan University (LMU) was stripped of its licence to authorise non-EU visas for international students. The verdict was made after the UK Boarder Agency (UKBA) discovered a number of international ‘bogus’ students did not meet UKBA requirements. Concerns have been voiced that this ban will damage Britain’s image as a welcoming hub for international students, and the university sector fears that its income will be severely affected by this decision. Vice-Chancellor of LMU Malcolm Gillies claimed that the ban would cause a loss of £30 million, nearly a fifth of the university’s budget. After the United States, Britain is the second most popular destination for international students. Official forecasts suggest that revenue for the sector could more than double to £17bn by 2025, not including the income generated off-campus. Worries concerning international opinion couldn’t have surfaced at a worse time after countries such as Canada, Australia, Germany and France have recognised the immense income produced by international students, and are now competing to attract them. The UK now risks the overseas perception that it is unwelcoming of international students. Lord Bilimoria, entrepreneur and founding chair of the UK Business Council, stated that Indian students had said “Britain doesn’t want us.” Some universities have noticed that applications from India have dropped by about a fifth.
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