NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul has said that during the tricky Brexit negotiations, the UK government should develop “workable policies”, including “pragmatic” immigration reforms, to promote Britain as an attractive destination for international students.
Participating in a debate in the House of Lords on the potential impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) on funding for universities and scientific research, Paul, Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, admitted that the Brexit negotiations would be “complex, tricky and time-consuming”.
“But, we must not allow our universities to be unnecessarily and unhelpfully constrained,” he said yesterday.
He wanted the government to “develop workable policies to promote the UK as an attractive destination for all international students and staff – including considerate and pragmatic immigration policy reforms”.
“Collectively, we have some 1,25,000 EU students and 43,000 EU staff in our universities – all adding value to our economy,” he added.
Paul urged the government to foster and grow global opportunities for UK students and staff by enhancing mobility programmes and create an environment that facilitates the recruitment and retention of the best available talent. He noted that last year the total value of knowledge exchange interaction between UK universities and their partners across the economy increased to 4.2 billion pounds.
He added that the higher education sector generates nearly 11 billion pounds per annum in export earnings.
Britain leads the world in terms of return on investment from commercialisation of research and matches the US in its level of engagement with industry, Paul said.
“Universities help create new jobs and new businesses in communities – last year alone there were over 4,100 new start- ups founded by UK graduates, a great many nurtured by our universities.
“My own University of Wolverhampton has recently created the Caparo Management Suite as a forum space in which business leaders, academics and students can all come together to exchange ideas and promote new business opportunities and development,” he added.
At the outset, Paul said that the outcome of the EU referendum was not the result that most in the higher education sector wanted, wished for or indeed expected.
“However, a decision has been made and we must all accept the result and work constructively with the government to support the best possible outcome for the UK during the negotiations and beyond,” he said.
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