Skip to main content

International Students and Researchers: Immigration Rules

Volume 705: debated on Monday 6 December 2021

4. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on immigration rules for (a) international students and (b) researchers participating in education in the UK. (904564)

The student and graduate routes offer a streamlined process and are a competitive post-study work offer for international students. We are working with the Home Office to drive reforms forward to improve high-skilled migration routes for innovators and top talent, as well as making the UK the most exciting place to locate as a researcher.

Since Brexit, the number of EU students studying in UK universities has fallen by 56% in Scotland, 54% in Wales, 42% in Northern Ireland and 36% in England. There has also been a massive drop in EU school trips to the UK due to the scrapping of group passports and increased paperwork for visas. How does the Minister plan to repair the damage that Brexit has caused UK educational and cultural institutions?

We value all international students, including EU students, not just for the financial benefit, but for the cultural benefit and the benefit to our society. That is exactly why we updated our international education strategy. We are on track to see 600,000 international students a year and to increase our education exports to £35 billion, and we have appointed an international education adviser.

Of the 16 Afghan scholars sponsored by the Council for At-Risk Academics, 10 remain trapped in Afghanistan; four, with the welcome help of the Home Office, have managed to come to the UK; and two remain waiting for visas—one of them in hiding. Will it be possible for the Ministers to co-ordinate efforts with the Home Office to ensure that those who have paid-for studentships in the UK get their visas as soon as possible?

We already work very closely with the Home Office. I am more than happy to meet my right hon. Friend to discuss the case in more detail.