Student visa policy 'rushed'

The economic cost of tightening rules on student visas could stretch to £3.6 billion
The economic cost of tightening rules on student visas could stretch to £3.6 billion

By Phil Scullion

The government's student visa policy has been rushed and could harm the economy, MPs have warned.

Tough new measures on student visas came into effect earlier this month as part of the government’s attempt to reduce net immigration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands by the end of this parliament.

However an impact assessment published 12 weeks after the policy was announced show the economic cost could be as much as £3.6 billion.

A home affairs select committee report has questioned why the government is "failing to establish a solid evidence base" before putting into place policies which could affect Britain's economic recovery.

Committee chair Keith Vaz said: "The committee are fully supportive of the need to address the flaws of the current system of immigration. However the home secretary's dismissal of the impact assessment is very disappointing.

"The government appears to be not only making policy without adequate immigration statistics, but also ignoring its own evidence. We reiterate the need for an immigration policy which is both evidence-based and does not adversely affect the British economy."

However immigration minister Damian Green said that a full and extensive consultation process had taken place.

Mr Green called the tough action "necessary" due to the "crisis" in immigration his government inherited.

The Scottish affairs committee released a separate report saying that student visa changes will have a "disproportionate" effect in Scotland.

It warned that they could compromise the "valuable contribution" of international students to Scottish society.


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