Cambridge University vice chancellor condemns UK immigration policy

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University, whose parents were born in Poland has called the UK government's immigration restrictions "one of the biggest threats" to the UK's higher education system in a pamphlet published at a conference in London.

Universities threatened by UK immigration policy

Writing in a pamphlet published by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education on June 2nd, titled 'The personal and the political in leadership: a story of immigration, students and targets', Borysiewicz defended the free movement of migrants, saying :"one of the biggest threats currently facing UK universities is the issue of international movement and controls on immigration. It is a threat that clashes profoundly with both my values and the values of all higher education institutions, especially research-intensive universities."

The Vice Chancellor added: "The welcome that my family received in the UK, and the education that I benefited from, allowed me to aspire to the highest level of excellence, and instilled in me a belief that access to education should be universal, cutting through national, cultural and class differences."

Fewer Indian applicants applying to UK Higher Education

Borysiewicz spoke about the fall in the numbers of Indian and Pakistani applicants for Tier 4 Student visas, referring to the fact that between 2011 and 2012 applications to UK universities by Indian and Pakistani students fell by 38% and 62% respectively.

Concerns about the fall in Indian student numbers were also raised recently by Sir Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who will soon become President of the Royal Society. The Indian born scientist told the Guardian on June 17th that "There's a perception out there that the UK has become unfriendly to immigrants. Even if that isn't true, the very fact that that is the perception will make people not even want to come.

"Every time I go to India I have to correct this perception and encourage people to think of the UK as a good choice for them." he added.

Fewer overseas students studying Languages

Students from outside the EU/EEA feel unwelcome in the UK and are arriving in smaller numbers. Cambridge and other UK universities have seen a sharp decline in the number of overseas language students coming to study in the UK, said Borysiewicz. Between 2010 and 2014 foreign student applications to study languages at Cambridge fell from 580 to 380. "My concerns are that the biggest falls in application rates…are still in modern languages, and I think that is a problem, particularly in an international world."

Tier 1 Post-study work visa

Borysiewicz mentioned the closure of the Tier 1 (Post-study work) visa scheme in 2012 which allowed graduates to work for two years after completing their degree course. There is currently no equivalent visa scheme for those who have been in the UK under the Tier 4 visa scheme and wish to work in the UK. He called on the UK government to make it easier for tier 4 visa students to work in the UK after their studies, saying that the UK must "enhance the opportunities for qualified international graduates to stay in the United Kingdom to work, to set up roots, and to create their businesses and enterprises in the United Kingdom for all our benefits".

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