MPs raise concerns about threat to language schools

Posted On 27 Jul 2011 at 3:22 am

A committee of MPs which came to Brighton to gather evidence has criticised proposed government restrictions on student visas.

The proposed restrictions could cut the number of foreign students coming to Brighton and Hove to learn English.

The language schools sector is worth more than £100 million to the economy of Brighton and Hove.

The potential damage to the country’s economy could total £3.6 billion according to the government’s own estimates, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee said.

The committee said that the figure was published in an impact assessment 12 weeks after the policy was announced.

The cross-party committee said: “The government is failing to establish a solid evidence base before embarking on policy changes which could damage Britain’s economic recovery.”

Labour MP Keith Vaz is chairman of the committee. He said: “The committee are fully supportive of the need to address the flaws of the current system of immigration.

“However the Home Secretary’s dismissal of the impact assessment is very disappointing.

“The government appears to be not only making policy without adequate immigration statistics but also ignoring its own evidence.

“We reiterate the need for an immigration policy which is both evidence-based and does not adversely affect the British economy.”

Brighton and Hove’s three MPs – Conservatives Simon Kirby and Mike Weatherley and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas – welcomed the committee to a rare evidence session outside Westminster in February.

While supporting moves to prevent the immigration system from being abused, they emphasised the importance of foreign language students to the area.

As well as paying fees to language schools, host families also receive money and the students spend money on transport and in local shops, bars and other businesses.

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