POLITICS

George Osborne Confirms Theresa May's Plan To Impose Stricter Rules On Foreign Students Have Been Ditched

01/12/2015 16:55 GMT | Updated 02/12/2015 07:59 GMT
Tim Ireland/AP
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne leaves the Treasury for the House of Commons to deliver the his Autumn statement, in London, Wednesday Nov. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, Pool)

George Osborne has confirmed Theresa May's plan to set tougher English language tests for foreign students have been abandoned.

Appearing before the Commons Treasury committee today, the chancellor said the plan was "not government policy". When the home secretary first floated the idea as part of an attempt to bring down immigration figures, it was reported the chancellor was opposed.

Osborne said today: "Lots of proposals are put forward but those aren't government policy. They are not government policy. The tightening up of the English language requirements and the post-graduate dependency rules. They are not government policy.

May's proposal to toughen up dependency rules would have meant postgraduates' dependents would have been prevented from doing less-skilled work.

Pressed on the proposals by Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative chairman of the committee, Osborne said there had not been "any agreement" in the government on the plan. He added: "We are not advancing them".

It has been reported that Osborne, and business secretary Sajid Javid, were worried a severe crackdown on foreign students would damage the economy.

Today The Guardian said its analysis showed Osborne was relying on rising immigration to reach his target of a budget surplus by the end of the decade.

Osborne told MPs today the public was concerned about "permanent" immigration not students who only stayed temporarily. The chancellor said he believed overseas students were a "good thing for the UK".

Under the current calculations, foreign students are counted as part of the migration figures. "The Office for National Statistics are an independent organisation. But there this is a lively debate in all circles about how this number is best calculated in the UK," Osborne said.