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London university chiefs slam Suella Braverman’s new student immigration rules

Home Secretary Suella Braverman  (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

London university chiefs have slammed Suella Braverman’s new student immigration rules as a “blow to equality and inclusion”.

The Home Secretary on Tuesday announced plans to ban most foreign students from bringing their families to the UK.

Those studying for a masters and many post graduate courses will no longer be able to bring their partners and children with them to Britain under the new rules. The ban will not apply to PHD students.

But academics warned the legislation could be a “slippery slope” for further curbs on international scholars coming to the country from abroad.

London Higher, which represents almost 50 universities and colleges in the capital, branded the proposals “an own goal for the Government if it is striving for growth”.

A spokesman for the organisation said: “The Home Office decision to prevent international applicants to one-year Master’s courses in the UK from bringing dependants with them represents a blow to equality and inclusion, and a loss in competitiveness against our counterparts in Europe, North America and Australasia who continue to welcome these students and their families with open arms.”

London Higher said last year the net economic impact of the cohort of international students in London on the UK economy was £9.59billion.

“Preventing international postgraduate students from bringing their families with them will likely lower this figure and undo the honourable ambitions set out by the Government in its own International Education Strategy,” a spokesman added.

“London’s appeal to international students is as yet unrivalled and acts as a gateway for international talent across the UK.

“We fear today’s announcement could dent London’s international ‘pulling power’ to the detriment of the whole country and we hope this is not the start of a slippery slope which opens the door to further restrictions on international students in the longer term.”

The number of visas issued to dependents coming to Britain with international students has increased eight-fold - up from up from 16,000 in 2019 to 136,000 last year, according to Government figures.

Ms Braverman said: “The UK is a top destination for the brightest students to learn at some of the world’s best universities. But we have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of student dependents being brought into the country with visas.

“It is time for us to tighten up this route to ensure we can cut migration numbers and meet the government’s pledge to the British people to cut net migration. This is the fair thing to do to allow us to better protect our public services, while supporting the economy by allowing the students who contribute the most to keep coming here.”

It comes as data due to be released on Thursday is expected to show net migration has rocketed to more than 700,000, despite Government promises to reduce numbers.

The Tory manifesto that Boris Johnson stood on at the 2019 election pledged to lower net migration from the then level of less than 230,000.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week said immigration was “too high”, but he refused to commit to lowering levels significantly before the next election.