Plaid Cymru calls for Welsh study visas
Steffan Lewis, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for external affairs, has warned that cutting the number of international students to meet immigration targets could be devastating for Welsh universities. The Conservative Government has proposed introducing new barriers for students wanting to travel to the UK to study. The latest ONS immigration statistics showed that 30,000 fewer people immigrated to the UK to study in the year ending June 2016, a 15% drop.
Steffan Lewis has argued for a Welsh visa system that would enable Wales to issue its own study permits to ensure that Welsh universities can maintain their global reputation.
Steffan Lewis, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for external affairs, said:
“Cutting the number of international students may seem like a quick fix to reduce immigration numbers. The Tories in Westminster have suggested introducing tougher rules for student visas that would make it much harder for many to travel to the UK to study. However, this approach is both completely at odds with public opinion and could cause irreparable damage to our higher education institutions and their global reputation for excellence.
“We have already seen a fall in the number of international students moving to the UK to study. The most recent ONS figures showed that 30,000 fewer people moved to the UK to study in the year ending July 2016, a 15% drop.
“Wales should have the ability to issue our own visas to those who want to come to work or study in our country. This would give us the flexibility to respond to Welsh demand and free us from being tied to a UK-wide approach that does not suit our needs. International students deliver many benefits to our universities and the communities they live in.
“Welsh universities have a long history of high standards and a reputation for being international, outward-looking institutions. Wales should have the power to issue study visas to ensure that Welsh universities can continue to attract the best, brightest students and retain their global reputation as centres for research and learning.”