Business Secretary Sajid Javid has come under fire for telling international students to leave the UK after they have completed their education.
Mr Javid told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday that the government wanted to “break the link” between students going to British universities and deciding to settle long term in Britain.
“What we need to make sure – and we do have this – is that our immigration system allows those from abroad that want to come to Britain to study in our world-class universities, our fantastic colleges to come here,” he said.
“But we’ve also got to have a system that doesn’t allow any abuse when people are using the right to study as a way to achieve settlement in Britain. So we’ve got to break the link and make sure it’s focused on people who want to study and then, once they’ve had their studies and completed that, then they leave.”
Campaigners however, say Mr Javid’s proposals are damaging to the British economy.
Seamus Nevin, from the Institute of Directors, said: “Restricting talented workers from staying on in the UK would damage business and lead to a loss of important skills.
Shutting the door to highly-trained international graduates at a time when our economy needs them most would be hugely damaging for UK businesses. In the interests our education sector, our businesses, and our international standing, the Business Secretary should reconsider this proposal.”
Mr Nevin’s comments are echoed by the likes of entrepreneur and inventor Sir James Dyson who said that talented people should be encouraged to stay and contribute to Britain’s economy.
In May, Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria warned the Conservatives “risked future prosperity of our country” with their immigration policies.
The Tories have been widely criticized for its crackdown on international students – especially from outside the European Union – as David Cameron struggles to stem the tide of migrants from Eastern Europe.
Expert say that the draconian new more rules on non-EU students – including the deeply controversial scrapping of the Post Study Work visa in 2012 – has resulted in a dramatic decline in the number of students coming to the UK, particularly from the South Asian region.
Many business leaders and campaigners have called for international students to not be included in wider immigration policy.