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Government fudge on overseas students won't heal damage to international reputation

13 September 2012 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU said today that the government must remove students from net migration figures, not simply express a desire to be able to count them separately.

In a speech at Universities UK's conference, universities minister, David Willetts, said the government wanted to 'publish disaggregated figures so the debate can be better informed'.
 
Last week the business, innovation and skills select committee called for overseas students to be removed from net migration figures and yesterday delegates at the TUC conference backed that call, which has also been made by UCU, Universities UK and the National Union of Students.
 
In his speech the minister promised £2m to help overseas students facing deportation from the UK after London Metropolitan University (LMU) lost its licence to teach them. However, UCU said, while this was a tacit admission that more had to be done to help the students, it did not go far enough.
 
The union pointed out £2m shared between 2,500 plus students being forced to try and find a new course at a different university represented less than £800 each. UCU reiterated its call for an amnesty for the stranded LMU students - a position also backed by TUC conference yesterday.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'It appears the government is finally recognising the damage its student visa policy, coupled with threatening to deport thousands of fee-paying overseas students, is doing to our international reputation.
 
'However, today's fudge will not solve that problem. Simply providing a mechanism to count overseas students does not remove them from net migration figures, as we, the BIS select committee, NUS and UUK are demanding.
 
'A £2m fund for the 2,500 plus students facing deportation as a result of the government stripping LMU of its licence to teach non-EU students is nowhere enough to meet their costs. While it may be a tacit admission from government that these students need help, the simple and cheapest option is to grant them an amnesty so they can finish their studies.'

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