London Mayor Boris Johnson has launched a spirited attack on the country's immigration policy, claiming ministers were causing 'unnecessary alarm' with tough rules, which could deter foreign students from coming to the UK.
Johnson, on the second day of the six-day tour to India, warned that the 'mood music' on visa restrictions could seriously damage many UK universities, which rely on foreign students for survival.
"The policy on visas has been sending out the wrong signals. The worry is they have been a little bit put off by some of the mood music coming out of the Government. You've got to be very careful that you're not doing stuff that actually deters foreign students,"
Johnson said at the Amity University in Delhi.
"India has a glorious tradition of sending students to London, from Nehru to Gandhi onwards, and we want to make sure we preserve that. I don't want to see universities in Canada and America and Australia eating our lunch. We shouldn't be losing this market," he said.
"If the Government decides to make changes to the visa regime, we want to make sure it doesn't do damage to a sector in which London is so strong," he added.
According to the Independent, international students brought 2.5 billion pounds into the UK last year in fees alone, but since tough restrictions, including a cap on numbers and minimum-income criteria, were announced last year, there has been a 9 percent fall, with a 25 percent drop expected next year.
In a letter to Home Secretary Theresa May, he said it was 'imperative' ministers stopped focusing on numerical targets and instead concentrated on promoting jobs and growth.
"This is why I am supporting a growing, cross-party consensus on removing students from the Government's net migration target," he added. (ANI)