Saturday 22 October 2016

Tory is undecided over Student Visas

Student Visa

Tory government is undecided over its international student visa crackdown.

Theresa May has said that she is "categorically" not considering whether to exclude students from the Government's net migration target in an apparent rebuke of her Chancellor.

Philip Hammond said on Wednesday that there are "conversations within Government" about whether the the figures should be included in the target to reduce net migration to tens of thousands.

Downing Street yesterday initially suggested that the issues was under review, but subsequently said that the Government position "has not changed".

The Prime Minister's Official spokesman said: "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included."

It came after Mr Hammond was asked on Wednesday about a leaked letter he wrote to Downing Street a year ago demanding a change in the way the numbers are calculated. The Chancellor told MPs that the discussion was continuing.

"We are having conversations within government at the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he said.

"As we approach the challenge of getting net migration figures down, it is in my view essential that we look at how we do this in a way that protects the vital interests of our economy. It is true that student visas have been abused in the past. The previous home secretary did sterling work tightening up on bogus educational institutions."

The Treasury did not deny that he held the same view as last year. Mr Hammond suggested it could be up to the public to determine whether the target was changed: "It’s not whether politicians think one thing or another, it’s what the public believe and I think it would be useful to explore that question."

Mr Hammond warned David Cameron, the former Prime Minister, in September 2015 that he net migration target is "damaging" Britain's international reputation.

He said: "From a foreign policy point of view, Britain's role as a world class destination for international students is a highly significant element of our soft power offer.

"It's an issue that's consistently raised with me by our foreign counterparts.

"I believe the public understands the distinction between temporary student migrants and economic/family migrants.

"Public concern about the level of immigration is driven principally by long-term immigration for settlement in the UK, not short term immigration, particularly if the primary purpose of that immigration is for legitimate study."

As Home Secretary Mrs May doggedly fought off an attempt by George Osborne, the former Chancellor, to remove students from net migration numbers.



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