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Two UK Lords, members of the House of Lords, have warned that the UK continues to look unattractive to foreign students applying for Tier 4 visas and that the government should exclude students from net migration figures. The House of Lords works with the UK House of Commons in making laws and in reviewing government decisions. Most members of the House of Lords are appointed.
The latest immigration figures show that the UK's annual net migration is around 250,000, higher than the government target of "tens of thousands"; The Government has used net migration figures to justify ever tighter immigration controls on foreign students on Tier 4 visas since they are currently counted towards the net migration figures.
Lord Winston, a Labour peer and professor at Imperial College London, has warned that foreign students see the UK as a "no-go area".
However, UK Home Office minister Lord Henley dismissed Lord Winston's remarks as "complete nonsense".
"It is not seen as a no-go area because we are seeing an increase in the number of students coming here," Lord Henley said. "If this was a no-go area there would be a decrease in the numbers."
Additionally, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, a former senior diplomat, said the UK's measure was not used "in the calculation of migration statistics for public policy purposes" in the UK's major higher education competitors the United States, Canada and Australia.
"Isn't it about time the Government ceased handicapping the most promising invisible export sector we have," said Lord Hannay.
Universities have continued to call on the UK government to reclassify foreign students as temporary rather than permanent immigrants.
Lord Henley added that the UK used the "internationally accepted definition of a migrant which is someone coming here for over 12 months" and therefore they should be included in migration statistics.
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