James Dyson warns business secretary Sajid Javid on foreign students immigration policy

 
Lynsey Barber
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Inventor James Dyson is outspoken about the government's immigration policy (Source: Getty)

Sir James Dyson is not happy with business secretary Sajid Javid.

Javid last week insisted foreign students should leave after their studies, indicating a fresh push by the government to introduce new legislation cracking down on their right to work after graduating.

Now the hugely respected entrepreneur has attacked the business secretary's stance saying that the UK needs them to fill a deficit in engineers and scientists in the UK.

"We know that Britain needs experts in these sectors, so why are we turning them away?" said Dyson, writing in the Daily Mail.

Sajid Javid usually speaks sense in his role as business secretary. But last week he struck a completely discordant note when he called for international students to be expelled as soon as they finish at British universities.

He says he wants to ‘break the link’ between foreign nationals studying here and staying on after they graduate. I wholeheartedly disagree.

If Mr Javid truly wants to help his Government colleagues to ‘secure a better future’, he needs to face the facts.

[...] The Business Secretary acknowledges that foreign students bring nearly £7 billion into the British economy each year, drawn by our world-renowned universities. More and more of the brightest sons and daughters of our competitor nations are schooled on UK shores.

Rather than send these people back home immediately, we should encourage them to stay in their adopted land.

It's not the first time the business leader has been forced to speak out on the issue, echoing similar comments made earlier in the year after home secretary Theresa May discussed the plans, which would mean foreign students not from the EU having to return home and then go through the visa application process.

In the past it has taken four months to get just one non-EU engineer through the visa system. Each year around ten per cent of our new workforce are on so-called Tier 2 visas and that figure is set to increase.

The battle to get them here is a drain on resources and time – and incredibly inefficient. It creates jobs in our human resources and legal teams, but hampers progress in our research and development, where the value really lies.

Australia may be an obvious example, but it has got it right. Between 2006 and 2011, 71.4 per cent of the increase in Australia’s supply of qualified engineers came from skilled migration. Using a scheme called SkillSelect, Australia manages its migration, reducing an engineering deficit that would otherwise harm the economy.

Why are we so intent on importing and encouraging products made by our international competitors? For Britain to secure these benefits, we must design, develop and export.

Just look at BAE Systems, which alone generates £7.9 billion a year for the UK economy and accounts for one per cent of all UK exports. Ruthlessly discarding the skills we so desperately need will adversely halt companies such as BAE Systems, and the UK economy as a whole.

The plans have also drawn ire from the business world, with criticism that it will damage the UK economy and its reputation as a global centre of education.

Read more: These are the most influential business founders in the UK

"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," said the IoD's employment and skills policy director Seamus Nevin.

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