Andrew Smith MP takes part in a key debate on the growing concerns about restrictions to student visas.
Andrew described the current government's policies on student visa restrictions as amounting to "to a perverse and stupid act of economic self-sabotage," hitting a part of our economy where the country -- and Oxford in particular - has a "strong global strategic competitive advantage."
He backed Select Committee calls for the removal of overseas students from net migration targets.
Andrew said: "With two universities and numerous independent colleges in Oxford East, my constituents are among the hardest hit by the ill-judged policies on student visas and immigration that the Government have brought in. They have inflicted serious damage on the reputation and attractiveness of the UK, and on the economic and cultural contribution that overseas students, and those who teach them, make to our country."
Andrew condemned the policies as damaging the reputation of higher education in this country whilst undermining legitimate immigration control, saying that the changes have "hit legitimate universities and colleges that are an enormously important source of intellectual capital, jobs and prosperity, both now and for the future, that is worth tens of billions of pounds."
His speech also echoed concerns raised by Oxford University, who have issued a statement expressing concerns about the "cumulative and frequent changes to policy guidance over the last few years" which they say have "created increased anxiety amongst our current and prospective student body especially."
Andrew finished his speech by urging the government "to think further and positively about how to encourage, not discourage, overseas students at all levels who want to come here, as those students invigorate universities and other education institutions and generate lots of overseas earnings, jobs and economic demand, which people here desperately need.'
Doing so would rebuild Britain's reputation in the world as somewhere that welcomes international students and researchers and recognises their enormous potential contribution to our culture and economy which, let us remember, is to the benefit of us all."