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19th September 2012

Foreign student numbers should be capped, says poll

“There shouldn’t be any cap on recruiting international students,” says Education VP at London Met

The number of foreign students entering Britain should be limited, and opinion poll has revealed.

Two-thirds of around 2,900 adults questioned said that there should be a cap on overseas students, says a poll, published by MigrationWatch UK.

MigrationWatch UK describes itself as a “non-political body” that is “concerned about the present scale of immigration in the UK.”

Before answering the question respondents were told that around 250,000 non-EU students arrive in Britain to study each year, with around 20% staying on legally after completing their course.

Syed Rumman, Vice President of Education at London Metropolitan University disagreed with the sentiment of the poll.

“There shouldn’t be any cap on recruiting international students,” he said.

Mr. Runman went on to state that a cap on international students will result in “universities losing income compared to previous years.”

Saad Wahid, Diversity Officer at the University of Manchester Students’ Union agreed. “Any capping of non-EU students will result in a reduction of financial resources for the university as foreign students generally pay twice as many fees as a domestic student,” he said.

The poll also revealed that 70% of respondents thought that those found to have insufficient English for their courses should be deported.

But Mr Rumman said: “It is not the border agencies but the university’s responsibility.”

“It is the universities’ responsibility to make sure that students can understand English before they arrive. Students coming to study in the UK should understand their lectures and all their education.

“It depends on the university how they impose it on students.”

The survey comes after London Metropolitan University had its license to teach foreign students revoked by the UK Boarder Agency for “serious systematic failure” to monitor its overseas students.

“This has always been an issue and that is why this decision has been taken,” Mr Runman acknowledged. “It is more political than just the public opinion.”

Mr Wahid agreed that there is a lot of politics surrounding the issue: “[The poll] may be a political stint to legitimize and gain public support on the increase in restrictions around foreign students.

“That being said I think that there is a real need to bring the actual facts to the surface.

“That genuine foreign students are a benefit to the UK in terms of diversity, economic impact and global connections.”

Responding to the poll, Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said there were “clear signals” that the British public understood “the contribution overseas students make to our academic and cultural life, as well as to our economy.”

“We should be encouraging genuine international students to study in the UK, rather than risking our global reputation by sending out false signals that they are not welcome here.”

A spokesperson from the University Manchester confirmed that foreign students applying to study at the university must be able to speak and understand English to a required level.

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