Carol Monaghan, a member of the United Kingdom parliament, has expressed strong criticism of the UK’s new immigration policy, which prohibits international students (Nigerians) from bringing their families with them starting in 2024.
The decision, announced by the UK Home Office, also includes a restriction on foreign students switching from a student visa to a work visa until they have completed their studies. This policy has raised concerns among various stakeholders, including MPs and universities.
Monaghan, in her address at parliament, emphasized the significant contributions made by international students and their families to the UK economy.
She highlighted that in 2022 alone, these students added a substantial £40 billion to the country’s economy.
She stressed that international students bring valuable skills that are beneficial across various sectors, such as healthcare, STEM, and IT.
The MP questioned the potential negative consequences of this policy, particularly in exacerbating labor shortages in critical areas. She also called for an assessment of the economic impact on the university sector.
Monaghan further emphasized that many students who choose to study in the UK also seek to involve their families in their educational experience. Without the option to bring their families, it is anticipated that many students may opt to study elsewhere. Such a decline in international student numbers could further harm universities already facing financial difficulties.
The concerns expressed by Monaghan are echoed by UK universities. Universities UK International (UUK), an organization representing universities, has raised objections to the new immigration rules. They view the policy as a threat to the UK’s global success as a top destination for international talent.
Jamie Arrowsmith, the Director of UUK, emphasized the invaluable contribution of international students to UK universities and the country’s economy.
He highlighted the significant growth witnessed since 2019 and urged the government to consider its explicit commitments and ambitions outlined in the international education strategy.
The decision to ban families of Nigerian students, and its potential economic consequences, has sparked a larger conversation about the impact of immigration policies on the UK’s higher education sector and its reputation as a welcoming destination for international students.