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Rishi Sunak faced backlash on social media after proudly announcing the ban on most foreign students bringing their families to the UK as part of the government’s strategy to reduce immigration numbers. Last year saw a significant increase in visas issued to dependents of foreign students, reaching 136,000 compared to 16,000 in 2019.

In a New Year’s Day post on X (formerly Twitter), the prime minister portrayed the policy as an early achievement for the British people in 2024. However, the announcement was met with criticism in the replies, with users labeling it as embarrassing and describing it as performative spite.

Concerns were raised about the potential impact on foreign students’ choices, as some may opt for universities in other countries. Cambridge University lecturer Sir Richard Evans criticized the move as short-sighted and arrogant, highlighting its adverse effects on international graduate students, many with families, who contribute significantly to research-intensive universities.

In defense of the policy, Home Secretary James Cleverly asserted that the government is implementing a robust plan to control borders and reduce immigration. He emphasized the goal of preventing manipulation of the immigration system, stating that the new policy, which ends the practice of overseas students bringing family members to the UK, is a significant step in rapidly decreasing migration numbers and aligns with the broader strategy to prevent 300,000 people from coming to the UK.

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