Mayor Boris, in Delhi to promote London, said he wanted to roll out the red carpet to Indian students
Boris used his speech to prospective students at the prestigious Amity University to repeat his criticism of the current UK government ‘get tough’ policy on immigration. He wants to reverse the decline that saw the number of Indians applying to study in the UK fall 9% this year and with a further 25% fall predicted next year.
With his trademark look at history he set out his pro immigration stance “London was founded by a bunch of pushy immigrants – the Romans. There wasn’t a London at all until immigrants came. The important point is that sectors in London that have always been strong should continue to benefit from talent from abroad and I don’t want them to be the accidental victims of a policy that was really designed to counteract a mistake a decade ago”
While critical of the current political mood music, “The policy on visas is, in my view, sending out the wrong signal. There are so many stipulations that we are starting to lose business to Australia, America and Canada”, he also pointed out that “The vast majority of Indian students do get a visa, 75% of them get one pretty much straight off. It’s more of a perception at the moment”.
Boris is clearly taking this very seriously and lobbying everyone possible “As I have written several times to the Home Secretary, we need to see a strong statement of welcome to make sure that the visa system is not a deterrent to international students.”
“We need to be very careful that we are not doing stuff that actively deters foreign students and at the moment the policy seems to put people off. Why are we doing this? We shouldn’t be losing this market.”
“It’s very important for our higher education economy that you have foreign students who contribute £2.5 billion a year in fees. Now that helps to subsidise the rest of the university sector – helps to pay for everybody else’s education.
“It’s a great idea to have a London that is open to that kind of business. I am saying to Government ‘Don’t do things that is going to cause unnecessary alarm and prejudice against the UK’.”
The positive words came with clear policy proposals
1. “To mitigate future reputational risks, safeguards need to be in place to protect the investment international students make when choosing London and the UK as their destination.” “I would ask that you introduce new measures in the student visa system to protect genuine students from circumstances when a sponsor loses its licence. These measures should include as a minimum permission to complete studies or the academic year, whichever is soonest.”
2. Student visa statistics should be removed from the overall net migration target of less than 100,000 pa as “I think higher education, which has traditionally attracted very bright people and is good for the London economy, is not the area to do it [cut migration]”.
1. 12-12-12 Deadline for Tier 4 Students.