A commitment by the Shadow Home Secretary to scrap the Conservatives' net migration target has been warmly welcomed by business leaders. Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour Party Conference yesterday, Yvette Cooper also called on the Government to drop international students from their aim to get immigration below 100,000 a year. The Institute of Directors, alongside other business groups and the UK's higher education sector, has campaigned vigorously for this change.
Simon Walker, Director General of the IoD, commended Ms Cooper for making such a pro-business move: "Businesses will be very glad to hear that Labour understands their concerns on immigration. The current approach is not working. Britain's universities are one of our most successful exports, with students from outside the EU contributing billions of pounds every year to the economy, but the Government's policies have led to a drop in the number of foreign students for the first time in 30 years. IoD members are also worried that treating international students like other migrants will limit their ability to get the skilled staff they need.
Simon Walker added: "It's not just about skills, we're concerned that a negative approach to students is damaging the UK's links with the rest of the world, particularly developing economies like India and China. Students from these countries don't just help our trade balance, they build business and diplomatic links which help Britain to strengthen its position as an open, trading nation."