Duncan Lewis


Asylum, Detention/ Fast Track

Managed Migration, Public Law

Boarding Schools Association urges government to exclude pupils from net migration count

Date: (28 September 2012)    |    

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The Boarding Schools Association (BSA) has written to the Immigration Minister Mark Harper, urging that the government should remove overseas pupils from net immigration figures lest including these pupils would risk driving them away.
It said that overseas student had brought in £510m in fees alone last year.
John Newton, head of Taunton School, said the students were temporary migrants as the government wanted the international students to be.
In the letter, Mr Newton, a member of the BSA's national executive committee, urged the minister to consider, most seriously and urgently, removing from the student immigration figures those international students coming to attend BSA’s member schools.
Further he wrote that the students would be discouraged despite their youth and would be sent straight to other markets for education in Australia and in the United States. This would damage valuable schools which have to depend commercially on international students which in turn would harm British economy when it was already fragile.
The government has already said it wants to develop a new system of student migration in and out of the UK, but the debate has so far focused on university or college students.
Two MPs' reports recently urged the government to reclassify international students so they would not count towards net migration figures and earlier this month London Metropolitan University began legal proceedings to challenge a ban by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) on its recruitment of overseas students.
The agency said the university was not making proper checks on the students. The move was part of a crack-down on alleged abuse of the student visa system and London Met was the first university to lose its right to sponsor students from outside of the European Union for their visas.
The Boarding Schools Association letter assured the minister that it was a safe sector as compliant as UKBA could wish, and that its incoming students were as safe a category of student as the government could devise... no students are likely to be as safe as those attending the reputable boarding schools in our membership.
"Parents wanting their children back, in good health and in good order and with excellent examination results, is the reason these school pupils should be removed from the student numbers."
A spokesman for UKBA responded that there was no limit on the number of overseas students who came to study at world class British institutions and they continued to attract the best and the brightest. Altering the internationally agreed definition of a migrant would not change that and could in fact undermine public confidence in our statistics."
The BSA represents 462 boarding schools, with about 73,000 pupils in both state and private sectors.