I have been campaigning for the past seven years to remove students from the Government’s flawed net migration targets and for other policy changes to reverse the decline in the proportion of international students coming to the UK – making the case for the benefits to Sheffield and the country.
Together with Lord Karan Bilamoria, I set up the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on International Students, which I co-chair, and our major report last year on a ‘A Sustainable Future for International Students in the UK’ made a series of recommendations to change the Government’s policy. Restrictions designed to meet the ‘tens of thousands’ net migration target, have seen our market share fall from 12% in 2010 to 8% in 2016, according to OECD figures, with flows of students from countries such as India sharply down on levels seen a decade ago.
Most recently, I have been working with the former Universities Minister, Jo Johnson MP, to build cross-party support for an amendment to the latest Immigration Bill that will ensure that student numbers cannot be capped in order to comply with the net migration target. It will require any Government introducing a quota to secure Parliamentary approval, locking down existing policy commitments in primary legislation for the first time. It will also restore the post-study work period to 2 years, that existed until 2012, and which will align the UK more closely with competitor countries.
We published a joint piece in the Times today setting out the case for the amendment, which we tabled yesterday with signatures from across the parties and including many Chairs of Select Committees and former Secretaries of State. It is not clear yet when the Bill will return to the Commons for debate but we are confident of overwhelming support when it does.