Chi Onwurah MP told MPs and Ministers during a debate that visas for Overseas Students play an important part in every aspect of life in Newcastle.
She is deeply concerned that the Government drive to cut overseas student numbers between now and the next general election will damage the economy in Newcastle.
Ms Onwurah stated:
“As Hon. Members undoubtedly know, Newcastle is a great university town
“ Students are therefore a vital part of our economy, contributing much to our businesses, our bars and clubs and our cultural life.
“ Why on earth would we want to put up a sign saying “Do not come and study here”?
Chi pointed out that Newcastle has a long and proud history of educating a wide and diverse range of students from all kinds of backgrounds and from all over the world. Newcastle being a favoured destination of UK and international students. Attracting students from all over the world.
Newcastle University has 3,000 international students from more than 110 countries, while Northumbria University has students studying degrees at partner institutions in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Seoul and elsewhere.
She is concerned that the student visa refusals being reported to her mainly involve students in the middle of degrees or doctoral work, who thus have proven study records and whom the universities have already decided are able to complete their courses. Often the wording of the refusal has included factors not applicable to the case, showing that a standard letter of refusal was used, rather than consideration being given to the individual applications. All the students refused visas who have contacted her were studying STEM—science, technology, engineering and maths—subjects.
Ms Onwurah added:
“There is a shortage of UK and EU STEM students.
“International STEM students enable departments to have the scale to undertake a wider range of courses and high-quality research in fields that might otherwise be closed down
She pointed out that the Campaign for Science and Engineering had recently said,
“Nearly 40% of the UK’s scientific output from 2002-2007 involved international collaborations, so it is actually a positive aspect of UK higher education that students are exposed to a diverse peer group from the outset.”
Chi is concerned about the refusal of visas upon Newcastle in general as well as its Universities stressing :
“ We are in a globally competitive environment. Our universities and our country need to be competitive in that environment. We cannot and should not hang up a global “Closed” sign above our universities.”
Click here to view Chi’s comments in full as recorded in Hansard (external site).