Scottish Universities are warning the UK Government that Scotland will have one of the strictest visa regimes in the World for foreign students if the Government goes ahead with its plans to reduce student immigration.
The UK Government has laid out plans to restrict student immigration for students studying at below-degree level, limit work rights for students, and ban students from bringing family with them. The Scottish education sector depends heavily on fees that overseas students pay for tuition.
Currently, the UK Border Agency is undertaking a public consultation on the planned restrictions, causing the education industry across Britain to voice their concerns at what many see to be a major mistake on the part of the UK.
Scotland wants a separate immigration policy for students as well as highly skilled migrants, stating that Scotland's needs are different to the rest of the UK.
Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, has written to MPs calling for a separate policy. Sim says any student immigration restrictions would seriously threaten Scotland's education industry.
"At the same time as university funding is cut across the UK, and universities are told to increase their income from other sources, we face a set of proposals which will completely undermine our ability to succeed in what is already a highly competitive market," Sim said.
International student fees at Scotland's universities resulted in £188 million of income during the 2007-08 academic year.