Lords Science and Technology Committee report claimed Government policies were putting off international students; Government dismiss accusations
The chair of a House of Lords committee has branded the Government’s unwillingness to review its immigration policies as disappointing.
Earlier this year the Lords Science and Technology Committee reported that an ‘unwelcoming’ UK had led to a disturbing fall in international Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) student numbers.
In particular, the Committee found that changes to the immigration rules in this country had played a direct part in putting overseas students off from choosing the UK. It urged the Government to overhaul its ‘contradictory’ policies, and re-think the way it incorporates students into its immigrant targets.
But the Government has responded by dismissing the arguments and maintaining that visa applications in the UK continue to rise.
Chair of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, Lord Selborne, said:
“As a committee we are dismayed to discover that the Government have rejected our recommendations for a simplified and more appealing set of immigration rules, which we feel in their current form are off-putting and unwelcoming.
We are disappointed to read that the Government do not believe they hold contradictory immigration policies – on the one hand showing a commitment to reduce net migration and on the other encouraging more international students.
While the Government have stated to us that ‘there are no barriers to studying in the UK’ and that there have been year-on-year increases in visa applications, we feel strongly that increased visa applications do not necessarily lead to increased enrolments.
Although the Government have confirmed that they will improve the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS), we feel that this will be a small crumb of comfort to those who feel that overall the UK is unwelcoming to international STEM students.”