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Minister and Lord clash on UK immigration policy

by Dominic 11/12/2012 15:26:00

The Lord Bilimoria (top) and 
Immigration Minister Mark 
Harper clashed on the BBC's
Daily Politics.
 

Immigration Minister Mark Harper and the Lord Bilimoria have clashed on the BBC's Daily Politics over UK immigration policy affecting international students and skilled workers.

The Conservative-led coalition Government has made significant changes to UK visa and immigration policy in recent months as part of its aim to reduce net migration to the UK to the 'tens of thousands' by 2015.

Changes have included the introduction of salary thresholds for those wanting to bring partners and families to the UK and the removal of post study work rights for international students.

It is the changes affecting international students which have provoked the sharpest debate; the international education industry in the UK is a world leader which contributes billions to a struggling British economy.

The Government maintains that the changes tackle abuse of the student visa system - foreign citizens who enter the country on a student visa under the pretence of studying but really to work. Critics however, argue that the changes are too blunt.

Are the changes too harsh?

Lord Bilimoria, an Indian-born British businessman and life peer, agrees that changes need to be made to the system, but the Government's intentions are seen much more harshly from prospective migrants.

"I hear what [Mr Harper] is saying about what the Government is trying to say, the reality is the perception of what is being said," said Lord Bilimoria.

"We've had this country built on good immigration. What happened was the previous government lost control of immigration where if you ask the UK Border Agency right now how many illegal immigrants there are in this country they cannot even give you a figure rounded up to the nearest hundred thousand, they haven't a clue. We have lost control of our borders."

"We have still not reintroduced exit controls so we don't even know who's leaving the country; that needs to be brought in urgently."

"And there's a big difference between bad immigration and good immigration. This whole country, we're only 60 million people on a small island we can't have everyone coming here and it's an attractive place to come we're one of the top 10 economies in the world."

"But we need to keep away the bad immigration, that's what we've got to get control of."

The minister said the Government was fully intent on agreeing with the Lord Bilimoria's suggestions. However, Lord Bilimoria, who sits on the board of three UK business schools, criticised the Government's methods of achieving those goals.

"It's the way that you do it, if you want to get rid of the bad immigration, everyone would agree. If you want to get rid of the dodgy colleges and dodgy students, everyone would agree," said the life peer.

"But what happens when you have a blunt, crude immigration cap - it's a mad cap idea - you send out the message with a broad brush - carpet bombing - everyone is affected."

Lord Bilimoria said the application rate from Indian students had 'plummeted' since the changes were introduced - a fact he said was due to the message emanating from the UK being 'Britain doesn't want us'.

The Government's changes to immigration policy culminated in the removal of London Metropolitan University's ability to take in international students - a move the Lord Bilimoria labelled as the actions of a 'police state'.

Are the changes taking effect?

Mr Harper defended the Government's changes, referring to the most recent release of immigration figures which showed net migration to be down for the first time in four years. The figures showed a 26% decrease in the number of international students in the UK but this figure too was defended by the minister.

"The overall number of students coming to our universities is up compared to last year," said the minister, claiming there was a difference between international students and international students studying in British universities.

"What we've done is we've tackled those institutions that were not actually selling education. Our university sector is being protected; the number of applications to come to universities is up.

"The number of students coming to our universities is up, the high quality end of the sector, the best and the brightest, we're seeing those numbers going up so Britain is very much open for business."


- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the UK Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

OECD report highlights strengths of Canadian immigration system

by Dominic 05/12/2012 13:25:00

The OECD's report will be released
on Monday in Paris.

A report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) due to be published next week will highlight Canada's successful immigration and integration programs.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organisation of 34 of the world's strongest economies. A major study to be released by the organisation has compared how well immigrants adapt and succeed in member nations.

The study, which takes into account both first and second generation immigrants, compares factors such as income levels, health, education and integration into society.

In almost all aspects, Canada ranks either top or near the top.

The full details of the study are expected to be released in Paris on Monday but it is believed that Canada is top in the percentage of immigrants who eventually take up citizenship - almost 75%  - as well as the equality of opportunity afforded to the children of immigrants.

Immigrants moving to Canada on average are also the best educated with over half having a degree; conversely, Canada also accepts the smallest proportion of uneducated migrants.

"Canada is doing quite well. That should not come as a surprise," said Jean-Christophe Dumont, head of the International Migration Division of the OECD.

Mr Dumont said Canadian immigration policy of selecting migrants with the best potential to succeed paid dividends; Canadian immigration criteria consider language skills, education levels and qualifications.

"The type of migrants Canada receives compared to other OECD countries, particularly Europe, is quite different," said Mr Dumont.

"Canada receives more skilled migrants, more migrants from Asia, who tend to perform quite well and especially their children perform quite well.

"The other element is that the labour market situation is much better overall in Canada than it is in a number of European countries.

"Overall, the finding is that immigrants are well-integrated in the labour market and have fairly good results in health, education and civic engagement."

Australia, which has a similar system to Canada, ranked second to Canada in many categories but Mr Dumont says immigrants and their children are better able to integrate into society in Canada than Australia.

"Canada is above Australia and all other countries in this respect," said Mr Dumont.

"If there are problems, they don't necessarily go from one generation to the next. It obviously takes time to settle in the country of landing, but in Canada after one generation and even before, most of the integration is on a good track."

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Canadian Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.