Government plans to further cut the number of international students in the UK have been condemned as “spectacularly ill-informed” and “an act of madness” by Paul Blomfield MP, who has led moves in Parliament to change rules that have damaged university recruitment and who is co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Students.

Responding to a speech by the Home Secretary at Conservative Party Conference today, in which she unveiled a new crackdown on international students, that will “look for the first time at whether our student immigration rules should be tailored to the quality of the course”, Mr Blomfield said:

“I’m shocked by the Home Secretary’s comments, which are spectacularly ill-informed. She doesn’t seem to know how many universities we have in the UK or understand the current rules for which she is responsible, let alone appreciate the enormous contribution international students make to the universities and cities where they study. 

“International students bring £8billion a year to the UK economy, creating tens of thousands of jobs across the economy. Education is one of our most successful export industries. The only people cheering today’s announcement will be our competitors. As a result of measures taken over the last six years by Theresa May, we are already losing out to countries like Australia, Canada and the USA. This new crackdown just makes it easier for them and will cost UK jobs. It’s an act of madness to turn our back on the world, particularly after the EU referendum.”

Mr Blomfield went on to condemn the Home Secretary’s comments that she was “committed to making sure our world-leading institutions can attract the brightest and the best” while “looking at tougher rules for students on lower quality courses” and saying “we need to look at whether this generous offer for all universities is really adding value to our economy”:

“She clearly doesn’t understand the excellence that exists across the university sector. Adopting a two-tier system, with one set of rules for what she sees as our best universities and another set for the rest, will damage everybody. All our universities have strong offers for international students which benefit the communities in which they are located.”

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