Jo Johnson: We must look at students as a 'great national asset'

Jo Johnson

Friday, April 26, 2019

Former universities minister Jo Johnson has claimed he will propose changes to the upcoming immigration bill to help increase revenue from international students.

The Conservative MP suggested the "ambitious" £35 billion target, compared to last year's revenue of £20 billion, won’t be met unless there are changes made to the upcoming bill to allow foreign students to work in the UK for up to two years post-study.

Mr Johnson told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “The trouble is we’re going to miss these targets by a country mile because we simply don’t have the policies to match, it’s all very well having these big ambitions but you’ve got to put in the policy framework to make it realistic.

“The Home Office frankly has to look at students as a great national asset not just as a set of numbers in a net migration target; it’s completely the wrong way to look at it."

 He added: “We’ve been sending out all the wrong messages about international students over the last few years and it’s high time we corrected that."

Mr Johnson added the UK would struggle to compete with other countries like the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand who offer three and four years’ work experience after graduation, with the UK currently offering just four months.  

He said: “We’ve got to be competitive on that front and increase the generosity of our offer otherwise we’re going to continue to lose market share among international students who bring huge talent and benefit to our universities and local economy."

Words by Wesley Hudson

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