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Ease foreign graduate visa restrictions, business leaders urge

In a letter to the Financial Times, 17 signatories from across industry , including London First CEO Baroness Jo Valentine, urge all political parties to remove overseas students from any immigration target. The letter was organised by Universities UK and is printed in full below.

Sir, the general public support an immigration system that welcomes individuals who make a contribution while they are in the UK. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the majority of people look favourably on the 310,000 or so university students who come here from outside the EU. Indeed, according to an ICM poll, 75% think that international students should be allowed to stay and work in the UK after graduating from our universities, applying their skills and ideas. We think that the continued contribution of these skills and ideas to businesses, both large and small, is absolutely vital to the future prosperity of the UK.

Many of the world’s brightest minds and entrepreneurs have studied at our universities in recent years – for example, the third of Nobel laureates since 2000 working in UK universities who were born overseas. We do not want to lose these talented people to our competitor economies as a result of an ill-thought-out immigration policy.

Whoever is in government after May 2015 must consider removing university international students from any net migration target, as well as increase opportunities for qualified international graduates to remain in the UK, for some time at least, once they complete their studies.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive, London First
Simon Walker, Director General, IoD
John Longworth, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce
Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP
John Fallon, CEO, Pearson
Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation
Toby Peyton-Jones, HR Director, Siemens Plc
Martha Lane-Fox, Entrepreneur and Co-Founder of
Digby Jones, former CBI Director General
Rob Woodward, CEO, STV
Simon Collins, UK Chairman and Senior Partner, KPMG
Lord Bilimoria, Foundier, Cobra Beer
Robert Elliott, Senior Partner, Linklaters
Sir Peter Bonfield, Truchas Associates
Des Gunewardena, Chair and CEO, D & D London
Bob Rothenberg, Senior Partner, Blick Rothenberg
Lord Clement-Jones, London Managing Director, DLA Piper UK

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