Parliamentary candidates in Northampton North have said that they all support welcoming international students into UK universities.
During a hustings event at University of Northampton this evening, in the run-up to this year’s elections, candidates from all five political parties said that they want to encourage overseas students, with some adding that they should be given better support to continue working in the UK after studying.
Angela Paterson, representing Liberal Democrats, said: “We are a pro-Europe party and we welcome international students with open arms. They should not be included in immigration figures.”
Sally Keeble, Labour, added: “To have a strong economy of highly-skilled people, we need to be attracting those highly-skilled people and their knowledge from all over the world.
“But we also need to help them be allowed to stay in the country to work and provide them with the services, such as childcare, that they would need.”
Representing UKIP, Tom Rubython, also claimed that his party supports international students.
During the event, which was attended by more than 60 student and staff members from the university, the panel responded to questions from the audience about climate change, lobbying legislation and how to engage young people in voting and politics.
But opinions were most divided among candidates when answering questions on the subject of tuition fee policies.
While UKIP, Labour and Green Party candidates agreed that they aimed to offer stronger financial support to students, Michael Ellis, Conservative, said: “The majority of current taxpayers did not go to university, so is it fair to ask them to support students today?
“People coming out of university are the ones going into higher paid jobs, they are not the ones who we should be focussing on trying to help the most.”
Mrs Paterson added to the audience: “I know that, as students, you won’t like this, but we do support the tuition fee system as it is because it is the most fair to both UK and international students.”