A report by a UK parliamentary committee has warned that the UK’s Coalition government is harming the UK’s standing in the world because of the changes it has made to the visa system.
A report from the Select Committee on Soft Power says that changes to the Tier 4 student visa in particular are damaging the UK’s reputation. The tone of the UK’s debate on immigration too, diminishes the country in the eyes of people around the world. The government should also do its best to ensure that visa applicants receive a good service.
The Soft Power Committee was established to examine how Britain could best wield soft power. Soft power, the committee says, is influence based not on military power or financial wealth or trade but on less tangible attributes such as cultural influence or interpersonal relationships.
Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-President of Universities UK, told the committee ‘the changes to the visa regime since 2010 have had a distinct effect, in that our student numbers from overseas have been growing strongly for 16 years but this year have dipped by 0.4 per cent.
‘We could have expected growth rates of five per cent, 10 per cent, 15 per cent or even higher, which our rivals are enjoying at the moment. There are a couple of specific reasons for that, such as the increased cost of visas and the complexity of getting a visa to come here’.
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