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Non-EU Immigration

Volume 556: debated on Monday 7 January 2013

19. Under which category of immigration entry most people enter the UK from non-EU countries; and if she will make a statement. (135598)

The latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that most non-EU immigrants come to study. In reforming every route of entry for non-EEA migrants, we have cut the abuse while continuing to attract the brightest and best. The latest figures show that our policies are working.

On a recent trade mission, which I happened to lead, to Nigeria, it became clear that people who are educated in this country help British businesses. When we try to go to those countries, the English language is already established and there are links with this country. Although we should try to cut down on immigration and although students who finish their studies should go back to their countries of origin, is it not important to recognise that educating foreign students in this country is greatly beneficial to British business?

I agree with my hon. Friend. Of course it is important that students should actually be coming here to be educated. We need to deal with the abuse whereby they are really coming here to work instead of study, which happened all too frequently under the previous Government, but he is right: there is a real benefit to Britain in having those students come here. That is why I am pleased that the latest statistics saw an increase in the number of international students coming to our excellent UK universities.

Of course we all want to see an end to bogus colleges and it is right that the Government have taken action on that, but the reality is that legitimate colleges and universities have seen their numbers reduced. If the Minister says I am wrong, will he publish the figures from each university for countries that have sent students in the past but are now not sending them?

The hon. Gentleman simply is not right to say that our university sector has not seen an increase. The latest figures show an increase in international students coming into the sector, and I am pleased that that is the case. The Government will continue to work with our excellent universities to encourage international students to attend them at every opportunity.