Conor meets Immigration Minister and delegates from Bournemouth language schools at the Home Office
As the House of Commons returned from recess, Conor had the pleasure on Monday 11th June of initiating a successful meeting between the Immigration Minister, Damian Green MP, and four of Bournemouth’s most highly qualified Educators: Mike Francis (Strategy and Policy Advisor to Bournemouth Tourism Management Board); David Jones (Principle of ETC International College in Bournemouth and current Chair of the International Education Forum); Simon Freeman (Principle of Westbourne Academy in Bournemouth); and Shane Wilkinson (Managing Director of Bournemouth Business School International).
Bournemouth’s local economy relies heavily on tourism and the benefits of visitors, both long and short-term. Students who come to Bournemouth to learn English often stay with families, who in turn use this income to support themselves and supplement their current incomes. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 families in the Bournemouth/Poole conurbation make money in this way.
As a result of this impact on the local community, the heads of these English schools were very keen to talk to Damian Green about how current immigration controls are restricting Britain’s access to the international education market. They argued that there needs to be a way to restrict immigration and people who over-stay their visas, clampdown on bogus language schools and other abuses at the same time as encouraging international student who genuinely want to come to Britain to learn about English language and culture and who will return to their home countries after this period.
Indeed, evidence to support this was presented: letters from agencies dictate that US and Australia are now preferred destinations to study than the UK. This means that the ‘Brightest and Best’ are being put off UK courses as well as solid middle ground students – causing these four businessmen to fear the UK may soon be ‘closed for business’ in regard to language schools and other associated tourism sectors.
Damian Green, the Minister for Immigration was willing to listen carefully and said that he would take these arguments and experiences into considerations when deciding upon his next stage of immigration reforms. He stated that he was glad that measure such as the Extended Student Visitor Visa, had worked well as a temporary measure, but was keen that it did not become a loophole to be exploited by either immigrants or language school and universities.
Commenting after the meeting Conor said, “This meeting was vitally important to ensure the Immigration Minister fully understands the unintended consequences for language schools of the otherwise excellent changes to immigration rules.
“Damian Green listened carefully to all the concerns and has promised to take the case for special provision for language students in the immigration reforms into account.
“Damian was particularly pleased to hear that the introduction of the extended student visitor visa which was introduced as a temporary measure was helping local language schools with students from places like Japan and Korea and indicated that the Government had no plans to revoke it.
“I will continue to do everything I can do ensure the Government doesn’t let our much needed and valued language schools down.”