Student Visas - Home Affairs Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (SV60)

As your Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into student visas I thought you may be interested in my Committee's recent visit to China. Although I was unable to participate in the visit, those Members who did, reported back significant concerns from UK universities and businesses in China about the negative impact of the visa regime and proposed immigration cap on the UK economy.

My Committee met with a large number of companies and a significant proportion of them argued that the current visa regime and immigration cap were severely inhibiting their ability to transfer graduate staff between their offices in China and the UK. In terms of graduate training, this was having a serious impact on their ability to provide Chinese staff with practical training in the UK.

Of more relevance to your inquiry, Members of the British Chambers of Commerce in China argued that there was now a perception in China that Chinese students were "getting kicked out" of the UK. As a result, Chinese students were now looking to other countries to study including the USA, Sweden, Norway and Australia. This view was supported by Dulwich College, Queen Mary College London, Newcastle University and Manchester Business School, who all were deeply concerned about the impact of this on UK higher education. In particular, they believed that it was affecting their institutions in terms of both lost revenue and the ability of UK universities to retain their world class status. Furthermore, they all have had direct experience of great difficulties in obtaining visas for Chinese students studying under joint UK/Chinese university programmes.

My Committee intend to hold a one-off evidence session on the issue of visas which will inform our inquiries into Trade and Export and Higher Education reforms. I do not believe that the overlap between our two Committees on this issue will in any way detract from your inquiry and I am sure that we will draw on your findings when we publish our Reports.

I would be happy to discuss this with you in more detail should you wish to.

March 2011

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