#Article (Archive)

UK should remove ‘foreign students from Net Migration Target’

Sep 21, 2015, 10:43 AM | Article By: Author: Alhagie Mbye, The Point’s Europe Correspondent

[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE Net Migration is often recorded within the European Union, especially in Germany, Britain and France as figures indicated that the three countries are currently ‘‘accommodating most of the people coming from outside the EU’’ despite the fact that such countries are not the ‘‘actual entry points’’.

But now universities in the UK are not impressed with the policy, and have asked the government to try and remove international students from the ‘‘Net Migration Target’’.

Such a request follows a series of independent reviews, surveys and assessments that ‘‘the immigration system has negatively affected their experience of students studying in the UK’’.

One of the most influential professors and an outspoken advocate of such discussion, Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, the President of Universities UK,recently urged the government to ‘‘remove international students from itsNet Migration Target...because there is no formal limit on the number of international students’’.

In a document seen by The Point, the professor also argues strongly that ‘‘...we are losing out to other countries...we should be presenting a welcoming climate for genuine international students and ensuring that visa and immigration rules and procedures are proportionate...they come to the UK, study for a period and the overwhelming majority go home’’.

It also reveals that membership of the European Union is vital to the success of the country’s universities.

Dozens of Gambian nationals are currently studying in various European universities, particularly in the UK, and recently many Senegalese citizens are also doing various academic and research courses in London and elsewhere within the country.

However, ‘‘Net Migration Target’’ is the calculated difference between the number of people moving into the country, commonly known as ‘‘immigration’’, and those moving out, called ‘‘emigration’’.

Thus such calculation has been a bone of contention in Europe over the years, particularly in the UK, Germany and France, where politicians and other experts regularly dispute and disagree with the figures submitted.

Most of the foreign students in the EU are allowed to work. However, the number of hours and language skills required may be different.

Thus the issues of ‘‘student visa, welcoming climate, accommodation, sponsorship and work’’ have generated a lively debate in recent months.

Another recent report by the respected business lobby, London First, alongside the consultancy group PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has shown, for the first time, that ‘‘far from being a burden to public services, international students contribute nearly £3 billion in fees and consumer spending...while the cost of providing them with public services is £540 million’’.

Interestingly, the Conservative government in the UK has a totally different view regarding the issue. Despite criticisms both outside and inside Parliament, Home Secretary Theresa May strongly defended her plan to expel international students from the country after graduation, stressing ‘‘... something has to be done about the situation in which 121,000 students from outside Europe came to study in Britain each year, but only 51,000 left’’.

It is important to note that both Immigration Officers (IOs) and Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) have been commended for their ‘‘professionalism and open-minded manner’’ often in dealing with such issues.

As a matter of fact, the authority to admit or allow anyone to the UK is with the Immigration Officer (IO) at the port of entry, and Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) at British Missions overseas also check if a person “qualifies’’ under the Immigration Rules for entry.

Meanwhile, the debate regarding international or foreign students is continuing between the British educational institutions and the current government. 

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