By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor

 PLYMOUTH business leaders are calling on the Government to take international students out of the net migration figures.

They say a change is needed on a policy that is damaging one of the city’s most successful invisible sectors: the “English language market”.

Henry Hutchins, chief executive of Plymouth’s Clever Student Lets, said: “We are damaging a crucial source of revenue and soft power for the UK, with a policy that needs to change, and we are working with other city organisations to influence this policy with all the main political parties.”

Nationally, university chiefs, MPs and six parliamentary committees have called on the Government to take students out of the migration targets.

Tory Party think tank Bright Blue, which has Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts as its president, last month started a campaign.

Plymouth business leaders are looking to create a debate ahead of the next general election.

Neil Pick, chief executive of Mutley Plain-based Tellus Group, said: “The Government needs to look at this seriously, and we urge decision-makers in Whitehall to recognise the importance of the English language and the added value this learning sector contributes to the British economy to the tune of £2.7billion every year, and growing.”

Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Sutton and Devonport, on a visit to Clever Student Lets’ North Hill offices, said: “Plymouth has always been an outward-looking city, and our education sector is strategically vital to our growth and jobs plans.

“I’m happy to raise this issue with ministers in London to look at this policy and to ensure we attract students who can afford to be educated here.”

Tellus Group has been providing educational services since 2003, and through its Meridian School of English since 1979.

It welcomes more than 5,000 students every year to its Plymouth and Portsmouth offices.

Clever Student Lets is a leading student property provider in Plymouth and is looking to expand across the UK.

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(Publicity generated by Dorcas Media)

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