Lawmakers who head five U.K. parliamentary committees called on Prime Minister David Cameron to exclude overseas students from immigration targets to help boost the economy.
Cameron has said he wants the number of immigrants into Britain reduced to the “tens of thousands.” In September, Home Secretary Theresa May ruled out a move to stop counting overseas students as migrants, saying international protocols on data collection forbid it.
The premier is set in the coming weeks to visit India, among countries that are sending fewer students to the U.K. after a clampdown on visa issuance. Writing to Cameron today, the lawmakers said relaxing the rules would “support economic growth in the immediate and longer term, supporting jobs in university towns and increasing export earnings.”
The letter was signed by three opposition Labour House of Commons lawmakers -- Adrian Bailey, the chairman of the Business Committee; Margaret Hodge, who heads the Public Accounts Committee; and Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Home Affairs Committee -- and two non-party members of the House of Lords -- John Krebs, the head of the Science and Technology Committee; and David Hannay, chairman of the European Union Sub-Committee for Home Affairs, Health and Education.
More than 34,000 students from outside the European Union were accepted at British universities in 2011, making it difficult for the government to hit its target for cutting the number of migrants unless they’re excluded.
May introduced a crackdown in 2011 on “bogus” foreign students who she said use educational visas in order to work illegally in the U.K. She said last month that with annual net migration still at 183,000, there was still some way to go to achieve her goal of reducing that to less than 100,000 by 2015.