Boris Johnson calls on easing of foreign student visa restrictions
Britain must remove students from immigration target figures and allow them to stay longer to work after their courses end, the Mayor of London said.
Mr Johnson was speaking during his six day visit to India where he is seeking to capitalise on London’s successful Olympics last summer to generate business for London. His comments were amplified in letters to Home Secretary Theresa May and Business Secretary Vince Cable in which he said the government should move away from a focus on immigration numbers and towards one which centred on economic growth.
International students inject £2.5 billion per year into the London economy, he said, but the capital’s reputation had been damaged by tougher visa rules for students and the decision to strip London Metropolitan University of its licence to recruit non-EU students. The decision threatened to force 2,500 international students, including 350 from India, to abandon their courses and return to their home countries.
The government was right to tighten rules for those who might become a drain on the state, he said, but warned “It’s crazy that we should be losing India’s top talent and the global leaders of the future to Australia and the United States.”
“The most important thing is academic freedom — if people are genuine students and genuinely desire to learn and contribute to the economy there should be a system which allows them to travel from one major centre of learning to another, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve,” he told students and academics at Delhi’s Amity University which announced it was establishing a new 15,000 student campus in London.
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