Student visa changes may hit Welsh unis, says Leighton Andrews

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Education Minister Leighton Andrews is “very concerned” Welsh universities will struggle to attract international students because of the UK government’s immigration policy.

He warned changes to student visas would drive away applicants and universities would lose millions in funding.

Mr Andrews has written to Prime Minster David Cameron and raised his concerns.

The UK government denies its proposals will harm universities and the economy.

We don’t want to artificially deflate the number of international students coming into Wales because of UK government policy”
Nearly 70 leaders from the education sector, including senior figures from Bangor, Aberystwyth and Cardiff universities, also wrote to Mr Cameron explaining their fears.

Mr Andrews told BBC Wales’ Dragon’s Eye programme all Welsh universities had made efforts to recruit students from overseas.

“We don’t want to artificially deflate the number of international students coming into Wales because of UK government policy,” he said.

Immigration Minister Damian Green had denied that visa regulations could damage legitimate recruiting of overseas students.

‘Tough border controls’
“There is no incompatibility between a strong university sector and tough border controls,” he said.

“We are reforming the student visa system because it has been abused for too long, with providers selling immigration, not education.”

Mr Green has also said the government is on course to meet its immigration targets without “fiddling” the figures to exempt foreign students.

He has rejected calls from 70 of Britain’s universities to stop counting foreign students as immigrants.

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