Giving the thumbs down to the UK's stringent immigration policy, University of Cambridge vice-chancellor Leszek Borysiewicz said here on Friday that there was an urgent need to liberalise the immigration regime to attract the best international students and academicians to the UK.
Speaking to Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the convocation of Lovely Professional University (LPU), near here, Borysiewicz, accompanied by Ashok Mittal, LPU chancellor, said the rules pertaining to UK border controls kept changing and lacked flexibility.
"The UK is being seen by our prospective students abroad as unwelcoming, while recruitment to academic posts in a highly competitive market could also be affected by a similar perception. The best option for such aspirants is simply to go elsewhere. A xenophobic reputation, once gained, is difficult to dispel," said Borysiewicz, who is on his maiden Punjab visit.
About the ban on London Metropolitan University from sponsoring international students, Borysiewicz said, "This will discourage genuine students to acquire qualification in the UK," he said. A large number of Indian students have been affected by the ban; they have been given 60 days to seek admission in other educational institutions or face ouster from the UK.
"We seek to maintain the highest international reputation of the university's teaching and research. It needs to recruit students and staff from overseas in order to sustain and enhance that reputation. The flow of international students through the university also provides a key element of its funding. More important, however, is the flow of ideas, the creation of networks and the spread of academic influence, which have an incalculable value for Cambridge and the UK," he added.
He said the University of Cambridge was keen to collaborate with individuals, academicians and investigators in Punjab in different fields of research. "My visit to Punjab is a fact-finding opportunity. Food security, water shortage, energy and life sciences are the key areas of prospective partnerships. We don't have the policy of opening overseas campuses," he said.
"We are already working jointly on a stem cell research project in Bangalore and a nano sciences project in Mumbai," he said, adding that he was scheduled to visit New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai before going back to the UK.
He said engineering and medical sciences were the most-sought-after streams in India. "At Cambridge, 50% students pursue humanities and arts. There is a need to work on humanities in India since such researches help investigators better understand society," Borysiewicz said.