Press release

MillionPlus comments on Immigration White paper ‘The UK’s future skills-based immigration system’

19 Dec 2018

MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, has today (19 December) commented on the Immigration White paper ‘The UK’s future skills-based immigration system’ announced by the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP.

Dr Greg Walker, Chief Executive of MillionPlus, said:

“Developing an immigration system that works in the best interests of the whole country is crucial in the years ahead. Higher education is inherently international in its outlook, with the benefits of immigration permeating every level of the sector, particularly students. Arbitrary caps and targets are no way for a 21st century economy to effectively manage the needs of its people and businesses. We hope today’s announcements will help us move away from this view of immigration.

“Skilled immigration is vital for many sectors of the UK economy, including higher education, and salary level is not a determinant of skill level. Therefore, arbitrary salary cut offs should be avoided to stop unintended consequences and perverse incentives from emerging. We will press the government on this in the additional consultations announced.

“We welcome the government’s recognition of the importance of welcoming and encouraging international students and the commitment to place no limit on numbers. Overseas students contribute billions of pounds a year to the UK economy, and universities want to work with government to help this part of the sector grow in the years to come. A better offer on post-study work is very welcome, but we hope that this process will allow us all to look again at how student immigration and Tier 4 visas operate more broadly and how we can improve the system, in the best interests of students, universities and the wider economy.”

“It is also important to remember that the UK currently has a highly beneficial relationship with the EU in the higher education sector, particularly through staff and student exchanges and research links. Making the UK less attractive, or less competitive, in these areas will damage the sector, and the economy, so we hope that the government will appreciate the deep and special relationship we have with the EU and negotiate an immigration settlement that is beneficial to all concerned.”

“Getting the UK’s immigration system right is a major political and economic challenge, but one that, if we are successful, will reap huge rewards. We welcome the start of this conversation and are committed to working with government to ensure that modern universities can continue to offer valuable study and work opportunities through cross-border links and exchange schemes which are proven to impact positively on home students and regional economies. Now is the time to follow the clear evidence in favour of maintaining and enhancing these ties.”


Notes to editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Jayne Hope on 07527 336 795 or email
  2. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities in the UK, and the voice of 21st century higher education. We champion, promote and raise awareness of the essential role and impact of modern universities in the UK’s world-leading higher education sector. More information can be found at
  3. What are modern universities? Modern universities are long established centres of higher education in their communities with roots that stretch back decades, if not centuries. Many gained university title following legislation agreed by parliament in 1992. They make up almost half of the UK university sector with over a million students studying at modern universities every year.
  4. Modern universities: key facts 2018
  5. Link to the Immigration White Paper