London, Apr 28 (PTI) International students, including those from India, should be removed from the net migration figures, leading NRI educationist Lord Karan Bilimoria has appealed to British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Participating in a debate on the Higher Education and Research Bill in the House of Lords yesterday, Bilimoria said “there is a unanimous consensus around the country – let alone in this House, that international students should not be included in the net migration figures.”

Describing international students as a positive force, he quoted the Commons Education Committee report to say “international students contribute 25.8 billion pounds a year and create more than 200,000 jobs, and contribute to the richness of our universities, as well as to the UK’s soft power.”

Noting that “our competitor countries” like Australia, Canada and Germany, have targets to increase the number of international students, he said “the demand from countries such as India for studying abroad is increasing by 8 per cent a year, yet an NUS (National Union of Students) poll found that slightly over half of overseas students thought that the British government were either not welcoming or not welcoming at all to international students.”

“There are half as many Indian students in 2015 compared with the number in 2010. Yet in countries such as Australia, Canada and Germany the number is growing by 8 per cent a year,” he said.

He said when the UK’s main competitors for international students – the United States, Canada and Australia – all categories international students as temporary migrants rather than permanent immigrants, “why can we not do the same”.

Bilimoria, founder chairman of the Cobra Beer, said over the past few years six parliamentary committees have recommended the removal of students from the net migration target.

“It is such a disappointment. It is ruining the reputation of our country, our universities and our economy – and perception becomes reality. This provision did not need to be in the bill. The government and the prime minister can still act unilaterally and remove international students from the net migration figures,” Bilimoria, who is chancellor of the University of Birmingham, said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.