At the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education in London, the vice-chancellor of Cambridge University, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, called for foreign students to be removed from UK migration targets.
This is a very good call in favour of foreign students. But it also sends a very mixed message about long term migration, which is quite illustrative of the confusion of political debates about migration policies.
Sir Leszek calls for recognising the virtue of migration as “migrants ‘revitalised economies’ and brought innovation”: his own example is quite startling in this regard. But he then goes on to distinguish students from “long-term migrants”: “International students are not long-term migrants. They come to the UK, study for a period, and then the overwhelming majority go home after their studies”. He is playing here into the hands of all those who believe that long-term migrants are a burden to society, which contradicts his own personal example. He calls “for the government to carry out a full analysis of the economic costs and benefits of recruiting more overseas students to the UK”: why not for all categories of migrants?
Pitting one category of migrants against another is certainly not the best way to shape migration policies generally.
To read more on this story, please see the BBC News article “Student migration rules ‘ludicrous’, says Cambridge head” by Sean Coughlan.