A CAMPAIGN by Plymouth businesses to lobby MPs to vote in support of legislation that will effectively remove students from immigration figures –and protect an industry which pumps over £300 million into the city’s economy is under way.

Henry Hutchins, chief executive of Clever Student Lets has written to MPs asking them to support the amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill – that will now be delayed due to the General Election vote.

The Bill was due to return to the House of Commons from the Lords and included an amendment which says ‘no student or postgraduate, who has received an offer to study at such a higher education provider, be treated for public policy purposes as a long-term migrant to the UK, for the duration of their studies.’

In his letter Mr Hutchins stressed this would effectively remove students from the migration figures. Over the last three years Plymouth businesses have been calling on the Government to take international students out of the net migration figures.

Other companies involved in the campaign include Mutley Plain-based Tellus Education Group and the Suzanne Sparrow Language School.

Mr Hutchins, said: “We are calling on South West MPs to support the motion once the bill goes back to the House of Commons. The amendment is vital to the long-term future of Plymouth’s most successful export market and the many small businesses supporting a sector worth over £1.2 billion to the UK economy every year.”

“Only recently we held a PR event to showcase 25 companies that works with Clever Student Lets including, The Appliance Doctor, Gasworks SW, Clear 2 see, New Wave Marine and Drainage, City Furnisher Store, GJM Electrical, TEC Roofing, MB Waste Removal, Luke’s Landscaping, EA Computer Solutions, A&S Pest Control, BACCS Property Services, and Pristine Clean Plymouth.”

Mr Hutchins said the student market is ‘stagnant’ and has been for the last three years. He said overseas students provide a ‘lifeline’ to local universities and language schools in the area. “This amendment is vital to the long-term future of my business, the people I employ, other auxiliary providers, and especially the growing white van entrepreneurs showcased in a video we put together to highlight the sector.”

“We are reliant on the ability of students from all over the world to travel to the UK – with no arbitrary cap on numbers – and return home at the end of their courses as ambassadors for what our nation has to offer.

“As the UK leaves the EU, these soft power benefits will become even more important,’ he said.

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