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Chancellor, Lord Bilimoria, worries that the government’s stance on migration figures is tarnishing its reputation and creates a climate of hostility.
In an article posted on The Conversation, Lord Bilimoria argued that the government’s ‘heavy-handed treatment of immigration’ is changing ‘the UK’s image abroad’. Calling for international students to be excluded from net migration figures, he argued that a ‘climate of hostility against foreign talent is being created’.
An Indian-born graduate of the University of Cambridge, Lord Bilimoria also expressed his dismay that there was a 25% reduction in the number of Indian students applying to UK universities last year. Claiming that ‘Today’s students are the entrepreneurs of tomorrow’, Lord Bilimoria argued that encouraging students in the UK and abroad to undertake higher education should be a ‘priority’.
The Chancellor cited statistics gathered by the National Union of Students (NUS) which stated that 51% of international students in the UK find the government to be unwelcoming. Additionally, he noted that figures from the Higher Education Funding Council show that the number of international students enrolling for study in the UK had dropped by 1% this year, the first time that this figure has dropped in over 30 years.
This comes after it was revealed that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, wants the next Conservative Party manifesto to include plans to force Universities to ensure that international students return to their home countries upon completing their course.
According to the Times Higher Education, the Chancellor said ‘The home secretary is sending a message of hostility to the world’s brightest and best just at the moment when Britain’s businesses are suffering from severe skills shortages’. He also added that Theresa May was ‘more dangerous’ than UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
Lord Bilimoria accompanied Vice-Chancellor Sir David Eastwood and Universities Minister Greg Clark on a visit to India last month, as part of a bid to encourage Indian students to study in the UK. The trip revealed that Indian students ‘have a negative perception of the UK government’s stance towards immigration’.
The university has strong ties to India in particular. In 1909, the university was one of the first to accept Indian students, and now boasts more than 1,000 Indian alumni.