General Election 2015: Liberal Democrats Spokesperson for Home Affairs, Justice & Equalities Julian Huppert MP
What is your parties policy on including International students in net migration targets?
The Liberal democrats don’t think there should be a net migration target. We didn’t allow it to be in the coalition agreement and we think it has always been a mistake. We believe this as it is partly driven by a number of flows that you can’t control, in particular by the number of Briton’s leaving the country, which has a huge effect on net migration but not something that net migration policy can adjust.
However, we should publish figures on net migration and we should treat students correctly within these. They should be considered as temporary migrants, so I would certainly take students out of the principle figures.
The Liberal Democrats should champion International students wanting to come to the UK; it is one of the country’s biggest exports and it has long term benefits. It is good for the UK when we have business leaders and national leaders elsewhere in the world, who have studied here in the UK and have an association here in the UK. We want to encourage this.
Do you believe it has an adverse effect on restricting international students coming to study in the UK?
Having restrictions on international students has a negative effect on our economy, and a negative effect on employment here – 1 in 7 companies in the UK were set up by migrants.
Do you believe that removing International Students from net migration targets will result in International Students taking the jobs of UK nationals?
The evidence suggests very strongly that it won’t. International students are a huge commodity that creates a huge amount of employment here. We should be proud of our legal immigrants, but we should also be firm on abuses of the system. We should be positive about the overall immigration effect, in terms of the employment in generates, to the economic benefits, the cultural benefits and social benefits.
A recent U-turn in Australian immigration policy has seen a 65% growth in new enrolments from India. Would you envisage your policy to have a similar effect and do you see this as a positive
Countries that have done well in recent times with attracting International Students are Australia, Canada and the USA. Their markets have grown because of our actions. The message that is being put across is that we do not want to have international students here. This is completely the wrong message to send. Our institutions would do much better if we could get more international students coming here.
Would you want to introduce any other policies?
One of the key things we would like to do is bring back post-study work visas, as having trained some of the brightest and the best here, we should get them to further contribute to our economy. It was a big mistake to get rid of them.
We would start off with STEM graduates and if that worked well then we would expand it to other subjects.
Come May the 8th and you find the Liberal Democrats in Government, when do you see your party implementing your new policies regarding international students.
A Lib Dem majority government would implement the new policies very quickly. As a coalition government, we would want to do it as soon as possible as it shouldn’t take long.