UK immigration policy ‘revolts’ Scottish minister

Scotland’s education secretary has claimed the UK's immigration policy is “driven by UKIP and by a nasty xenophobia”.

Michael Russell-JPEG

Scotland’s education secretary will today launch a strongly worded critique of the UK government’s immigration policy, declaring that it is “being driven by UKIP and by a nasty xenophobia”.

Michael Russell is due to address an education conference organised by the Economic and Social Research Council to outline his concerns at the impact of the Tory-led government’s immigration plans on student numbers in Scotland.

In his speech, Russell will highlight figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, which show that the number of students from India studying at Scottish Universities has halved since the coalition came to power in 2010.

The figures reveal the number of such students in Scotland fell from 3,290 in 2010-11 to 1,665 in 2012-13.

Declaring the UK government’s position to be one that “revolts” him, Russell will say:

“The debate south of the Border is being driven by Ukip and by a nasty xenophobia which certainly revolts me and I think revolts many others.

“I proposed the Global Excellence Fund to allow all universities to invest in global talent.

“But they are up against an immigration policy entirely foc-used on cutting numbers and measuring success by restriction and expulsion.”

He will continue:

“The second problem arises from the effects of the first. When students are excluded, when genuine scholars are treated with suspicion, then the reputation of the UK, and by association Scotland as a place to study, is undermined.

“It is essential that Scotland is able to set our own policies on migration and citizenship. Scotland needs to be seen as a welcoming place, open for academic and research business and more than willing to see those of talent staying if they wish to build lives and careers. That cannot happen without independence.”

Russell’s comments have been responded to with rigour by the UK government, with Scotland office minister, David Mundell declaring that it shows a complete lack of understanding about immigration policy. He expanded:

“This is an outrageous comment from Mike Russell.

“It shows a complete lack of understanding of immigration policy. First, there is no cap on numbers of foreign students at universities and no bar to EU students coming here to study.

“Second, the same figures he uses show that the number of students from China, the US, Malaysia, Canada, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Thailand studying in Scotland all rose in 2012/13.

“Finally, it is simply ridiculous of him to talk about xenophobia when his own government talks about pursuing a plan for tuition fees if Scotland chose to leave the UK which would be illegal under EU law as it discriminates against students in the continuing UK simply on the basis they are English, Welsh or Northern Irish.”

Declaring Russell’s to be unhelpful, Scottish Labour’s deputy education spokesperson Neil Bibby responded:

“There is absolutely no place for these intemperate comments when people are coming together to discuss issues as important as Scottish education.

“This is hypocrisy from a man who decides whether he will charge tuition fees based on nationality.”

7 Responses to “UK immigration policy ‘revolts’ Scottish minister”

  1. swatnan

    Am I wrong in detecting an increasing amount of scotophobia in the blogomedia as we near the referendum? Scotland has a proud history of University education to rival and beat OxBridge; and their school leaving certificates aren’t that bad either.

  2. uglyfatbloke

    No, as usual your’re not wrong and Im afraid you’ll see a lot more of it in the months to come. Pritti Patel and others in all parties have been at it for years..
    In this instance it’s not what’s said that is important, it’s who says it. If someone had said this in an speech aimed against Gove it would get lots of support in the relevant sections of the press….probably from Neil Bibby among others.
    What’s more of a concern surely is the question of what gets reported and what gets ignored. last week leaked diplomatic cables showed that a FCO department has been actively campaigning against the Scottish government even though the department was set up to help them. …reported on the BBC or in the national press?…nope.
    An academic study found that both BBC and STV were very supportive of Better Together and very hostile to the yes campaign…reported on the BBC or STV? …nope.
    We may not like this or that politician (or indeed any of them) or this or that point of view, but we should expect – and get – a level playing field on the telly. Newspapers are different. very rich people buy a newspaper specifically so that it can print what they want it to print, but we own the airwaves as much as anyone else does and all of us pay for the BBC.

  3. S&A

    SNP rails against xenophobia – pot/kettle alert.

  4. Two Bob

    And has much less people per square mile so do not appreciate why the English are so worried about immigration.

  5. Two Bob

    No wonder the Scots are chilled out about immigration compared to the English: http://anglotopia.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/london_lights_2012087_lrg.jpg

  6. St George

    A scot moaning about xenophobia from south of the boarder, oh the irony.

  7. uglyfatbloke

    S&A…whatever one might say about the gnats …and I generally do….they’re not xenophobic any more than any other party and rather less so than some. It’s not them that has a problem with immigration.

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