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Rishi Sunak: Uncontrolled migration leads to housing pressures

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pointed the finger at net migration, saying it leads to “unmanageable pressures on housing, schools and hospitals in many of our communities”.

Writing in The Telegraph, Sunak said that net migration needs to come down, whether illegal or legal.

He said: “We cannot allow people to come here illegally at the whim of criminal gangs. It’s not fair on those who have played by the rules.

“We can’t have uncontrolled legal migration either. That’s unfair too. It leads to unmanageable pressures on housing, schools and hospitals in many of our communities.

“And when it is too high and too fast, it can make it difficult for communities to integrate new arrivals.”

Sunak said the government will reform the visa system for international students to bring migration down.

In January 2024 the government will remove the right to bring dependents with student visas for all but postgraduate students on research courses.

Last year 135,788 visas were granted to dependants of foreign students, nearly nine times the 2019 figure.

He added: “We will remove the ability to switch out of the student route into work routes until studies have been completed. We will clamp down on unscrupulous international student agents who may be supporting inappropriate applications. And we will improve targeted enforcement activity including an intelligence-led review of remittances by those on student visas.

“We will also look to explore alternative options for eligibility, including a system which differentiates between the quality of institutions. In time we could still allow our very best and brightest students to bring some dependents when studying at our universities while preventing institutions from selling immigration rather than education.

“This is the fair way to balance the economic benefit of continuing to support our higher education sector while reducing the number of dependents who inevitably make a much more limited economic contribution than students or those coming under the skilled worker route.”

Adam Habib, director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, told the BBC: “What this decision runs the risk of doing is making sure these institutions, these universities which are dependent on the fee income of international students, go through a financial crisis.

“We are already seeing financial crises in universities over the last year – there have been strikes over the last year, and vice-chancellors are having to manage that problem – but you will aggravate that problem.”