Mark Harper, Immigration Minister has highlighted the UK’s excellent offer to attract the best international students.
He recently met international students of Plymouth University, the university’s two Deputy Vice Chancellors, a representative from START, a charity which helps refugees in further education, as well as the local MP Oliver Colvile.
PhD students from Morocco and Syria recounted their experiences of how being educated in the UK has benefited them and discussed continuing opportunities for foreign students in the country.
Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show Plymouth University has seen a 10.4% increase in non-EU students on undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the year 2011/12, compared to the previous academic year.
“Plymouth is a great example of growth in the university sector for the right reasons. In the rest of the country we have also seen gains with the number of sponsored student visa applications rising by 5%,” Mr. Harper said. “This shows the UK continues to be in high demand, attracting the best students from around the world.”
He added: “We have launched measures to encourage the brightest by offering students the chance to stay on after completing their studies so long as they get a graduate level job earning more than £20,300 a year. At the same time we are committed to stamping out the abuse of the study visa route by installing a more selective system that works in our national interest.”
The Minister also went to see first-hand the important work being carried out by frontline Border Force staff at the city’s port.
During a visit to Millbay Docks he praised staff for their tireless efforts to prevent illegal substances, goods and people getting into the UK.
“I have seen a range of checks undertaken by staff when clearing a ferry and have been very impressed by the slick operation which takes place at this busy port,” Mr. Harper said. “The team here is doing a brilliant job of protecting our borders and the public from illegal activity.”
The Border Force officers working at the city’s port handle ferry arrivals from Saint-Malo and Roscoff in France and Santander in Spain. Previous successes include the seizure of 230kg of tobacco which was being smuggled into the country.