Cobra Beer tycoon and well-known skills campaigner Lord Karan Bilimoria has been appointed President of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), days after the British government announced further crackdowns on foreign students.
The UKCISA is the UK’s national advisory body serving the interests of international students.
The life peer replaces Baroness Usha Prashar who stepped down having served the maximum term of nine years.
“I am very pleased with all the work that UKCISA does to best represent the voice and mass of the international student body, particularly as I myself was an international student,” he said after his appointment.
Hyderabad-born Lord Bilimoria’s first challenge as President of UKCISA will be to fight Prime Minister David Cameron’s controversial crackdown on international students from outside the EU as the government struggles to reduce net migration to the UK.
Last week Business Secretary Sajid Javid said new measures will be put in place to ensure that foreign students return to their home countries after they complete their university studies – a policy that was pushed forward this weekend by Home Secretary Theresa May who added that international students will be barred from taking up work during their studies.
Lord Bilimoria – as well as other entrepreneurs such as billionaire Dyson founder Sir James Dyson – have strongly opposed such measures, saying they are damaging for Britain’s economy.
“Britain urgently needs more skilled and talented graduates, yet its disparaging rhetoric towards immigrants among those in power, paired with our Home Secretary’s refusal to remove students from immigration targets, broadcasts the wrong message to those hoping to study here.
“As a result, we have seen members of the international student community turn its back on Britain in vast numbers,” Lord Bilimoria said.
“I aim to do all I can to turn this worrying trend around by promoting the huge benefits of studying in Britain’s great universities and pushing for talented and highly skilled students to be able to stay in Britain after graduation, through schemes like the two year post study work visa – which should be reintroduced”, he continued.
“These measures will benefit international students, while strengthening the British economy and making Britain a hub for knowledge, skills and business,” he added.
The Presidency of the UKCISA is the latest in a long line of positions held by Lord Bilimoria, who has devoted his life away from his beloved Cobra beer brand to campaigning.
Positions held by the 53-year-old include Founder President of the UK India Business Council; Chairman of the Small and Medium Size Enterprises Board; Council member of the Ditchley Foundation which promotes international relations and Chancellor of the University of West London.