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Home Secretary Theresa May has been criticised by a former colleague for using "unreliable" statistics to call for tougher restrictions on foreign students coming to Britain to study.
Ex-universities minister David Willetts took exception to Mrs May's claim that 96,000 more students were arriving in the country each year than were leaving.
In an article for the Sunday Times, Mrs May wrote: "The gap between the number of non-EU students coming to this country and departing each year is 96,000 - half the net migration from beyond the EU."
But Mr Willetts - who left government last year and is soon to join the House of Lords - said the figure was "not a solid basis for policy".
People who come here to study should study, perhaps do some post study work and then go back to their country...We are selling them a service, we reap a lot of benefits from that, but studying in Britain is not and should not be a means to settlement. My disagreement I'm afraid is that the particular figures that were being cited ... for number of students staying on is very unreliable. It is a widely disputed and doubted figure and would not be a solid basis for policy.
The Confederation of British Industry's director John Cridland has disagreed with Home Secretary Theresa May who has called for the reinstatement of the original free movement principles within the EU, saying people should only be allowed to move freely within the EU if they have a job waiting for them.
The evidence shows that the vast majority of people coming from the EU to the UK come to work and benefit our economy. Our hospitals and care homes couldn't function without overseas workers... But the system must be about freedom to work, not for the minority who do not contribute, so the Government should continue to work with our European partners to make sure the rules are fit for purpose for everyone. We'd be concerned if EU workers had to be hired for a job before coming to the UK though, as this would cause issues for firms without the capacity to advertise and recruit across the whole of Europe.
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