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Peers Vote to Remove International Students from Migration Targets

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Peers have voted in favour of removing international students out of the UK's net migration targets.

Representing a significant blow to the prime minister, peers backed an amendment from Lord Hannay of Chiswick which sated that students should not be treated for public policy purposes, as a long-term migrant to the UK, for the duration of their studies.

The amendment received strong support and was passed by 313 votes to 219 in the upper chamber on 13 March.

The Prime Minister Theresa May has previously ignored calls from the higher education sector to remove international students from net migration numbers, seemingly in an attempt to meet their pledge of bringing the figures down into the tens of thousands.

The current stance on international students has been blamed for a fall in recruitment from markets such as India, which has seen numbers half since 2010. Meanwhile competing countries such as the US, Canada and Australia, have seen their intake of Indian students explode.

Lord Lucas, a Conservative peer, argued the change is required as the Home Office was in theory the sales desk for international applicants to UK universities. He suggested the website was "antagonistic" and therefore deterred some potential students.

The amendment in its current state says, those who receive an offer to study in the UK shall also not be subject to more restrictive immigration controls than were in force for a person in their position on the day this act was passed. It also says the secretary of state should have a "duty to encourage international students to attend higher education providers".

The amendment will now be considered by MPs, who may choose to either accept or reject it. Peers can then try and insist on the changes, recommend alternatives or back down.