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Labour announces pledge to remove international students from net migration targets

Posted on September 25, 2014
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The Labour Party has announced its pledge to remove international students from future net migration targets, so breaking with the current policy of the coalition government.

In a speech at the Universities UK annual conference, Liam Byrne, Labour’s shadow universities, science and skills minister, confirmed that this would be party’s policy heading into the 2015 General Election.

During his speech the shadow minister said:

“Our ambition is simple: world-class higher education and a world-class higher education system. But to be world class, you have to welcome the world’s best minds. Not ban them, because somehow you’re ‘full’.

“No one wants open-door immigration. We need systems that work for all by tackling exploitation to stop people being undercut. But legitimate overseas students boost not burden our economy; they enrich not endanger our future. And that’s why Labour would remove legitimate international students from the net migration target.”

The news has been welcomed by supporters of the #weareinternational campaign which highlights the crucial value of international students to the UK. Since its launch in spring this year the campaign is now backed by over 100 universities, education institutions and international organisations.

The pioneering campaign, which was jointly founded by the University of Sheffield’s Vice-Chancellor and the Students’ Union President, has been a galvanising force within British Higher Education.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett said,

“Making sure that the UK is welcoming to overseas students is fundamental to who we are as a University, and we are determined that the debate around immigration must not damage our wonderful tradition of learning from one another as vibrant international communities in our universities,”

“Simply put, our University believes that international students are not and should not be thought of as migrants. International students are vital to the quality of education in the UK, to our research, to our communities.”

José Joaquín Díaz de Aguilar Puiggari, International Students’ Officer at the University of Sheffield’s Students Union commented:

“We are pleased with Labour’s pledge to remove international students from net migration figures. Moreover, the recent report from Universities UK on international students and the UK immigration debate shows that the public do not see international students as immigrants.

“We hope that all politicians reach a consensus in agreeing with this pledge and that we soon see international students removed from the government’s net migration targets regardless of which political party lead next in Westminster.”

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, added:

“We must continue to present a welcoming climate for genuine international students. Although the UK remains one of the most attractive higher education destinations in the world, many of our global competitors are going out of their way to attract talented international students to come and study in their countries.”

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