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International Students

Volume 629: debated on Monday 16 October 2017

The Government are working hard to continue to attract international students to study here in the UK. There is no limit on the number of genuine international students that educational institutions in the UK can recruit; nor do we intend to change that position.

I have the honour of representing in my constituency two universities, Abertay University and University of Dundee, with a large intake of international students. Does the Minister agree that the Government’s confused approach to international students, based on information, will damage Scotland’s reputation as a world-leading destination for study?

The short answer is no. The hon. Gentleman might be a bit confused, because we have been clear all the way through that we want good, genuine international students here at good, genuine institutions. The Government should take great credit for shutting down bogus colleges, so that when students come here they know that they are going to a good, strong institution. They play an important part in our economy, and we encourage that to continue.

24. When international students come to the UK, what fees are they charged, and does the Department make a profit? The charge in a case of indefinite leave to remain is £2,297, but the cost to the Home Office is just £252. What kind of a racket is being run at the Home Office? (901160)

I am happy to remind the hon. Gentleman that we set immigration and nationality fees at a level that ensures that the income received contributes towards the resources that are necessary for the wider border, immigration and nationality system, and in line with the charging powers approved by Parliament that are set out in the Immigration Act 2014, which he may have forgotten.

What response have the Government given to the Government of India, who have made it clear that any post-Brexit trade deal is conditional on greatly expanding the number of student and other visas?

Obviously, as I said in answer to the first question from the hon. Member for Dundee West (Chris Law), we continue to encourage international students to come here. It is good to see that universities in this country saw a 5% rise last year. That is good for the economy, good for universities and good for our society.

The Minister knows that international students are different from other types of migrants. They are temporary; they make a vital economic and cultural contribution to our universities; they contribute billions of pounds to our economy; and public opinion correctly does not think of students as immigrants. When will Ministers listen to voices from all parts of the House and remove international students from the immigration total?

I say gently to the right hon. Lady that the definition of net migration, which is decided by the UN, refers to people who have been in the country for 12 months or more, which university students obviously have if they are here for three years and using services here. Ultimately, though, the numbers are decided by the Office for National Statistics, which is an entirely independent organisation, and not by the Government.