Chris Bryant MP, Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister, commenting on migration statistics published today, said:
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen the Home Secretary ramping up her rhetoric on a tougher immigration system, but rhetoric is all it is. After over two years in government, and a pre-election promise to reduce net migration to 'the tens of thousands', we see that there has been ‘no significant statistical change’ in net migration and figures are still well in excess of 200,000.
"But just as these figures were released, after weeks of hedging and denying, the Immigration Minister announced that London Metropolitan University has lost its ability to sponsor international students. Of course, if this institution has failed in its duty to properly monitor its international students then action must be taken. However, it seems very convenient that this decision should be announced as once again, the quarterly immigration figures show that the government’s policies are having limited impact on numbers.
"This announcement leaves thousands of genuine international students in an impossible situation of finding a new place to study, just days before the beginning of a new university term. But beyond the immediate scramble to find new places, the way in which the Immigration Minister has drawn out the decision will make many think again about whether to come to the UK to study and will cause lasting damage to the international reputation of the UK university system which brings billions into the UK economy every year.
"Labour supports tackling bogus colleges and students but this must be done robustly and fairly as UK universities are vital to our economy. We need them to prosper internationally if we want to keep ahead of China and Brazil. It undermines that effort when ministers brief against a university on Saturday, deny the status is being revoked on Sunday and proceed to revoke on Thursday.
"Instead of empty rhetoric we need straight talking on immigration, we need action not empty promises."