Speaking about the issue while addressing the Royal Commonwealth Society, Mr. Green said that the high rates of net migration are largely driven by the soaring number of international students coming to the UK to study here.
The latest UK immigration figures for the last five years from 2004 to 2009 as published in the recent report by UK Home Office reveals that international students form the largest group of immigrants granted UK visas in the year 2004. Titled “The Migrant Journey”, the report says that out of the total 185,600 immigrants granted UK student visas, nearly 20 percent continued to live in the UK for a period of five years.
Around 320,000 UK student visas have already been issued in the last 12 months till June 2010 to international students as well as their dependent relatives.
Although, the aim of the UK is to attract and invite the brightest students from overseas, however, the fact is that a large percentage of international students coming to study in the UK seek enrolments in nonuniversity institutes of the UK like private vocational schools and language schools, the immigration minister reiterated. And the truth is that all such students are not, in any way, the best and the brightest, asserted Green.
Hence, what is needed for curbing soaring UK immigration levels is to allow only the genuine students coming to pursue legitimate courses of study in the UK, the immigration minister maintained. Only then can the UK relieve the increasing strain on the public and social services in the nation.
Meanwhile, such arguments by the UK immigration minister to constraint the entry of international students on UK student visas are being criticized by several student unions in the nation. According to UK’s student union, the National Union of Students, imposing a limit on annual number of UK student visas to be issued is going to result in driving away bright students away from UK universities.