THE head of Oxford University has said he is “baffled” by the UK’s immigration policy, which he says is putting foreign students off studying in this country.

Vice-chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton was addressing the university’s congregation, a formal meeting of senior members, in his annual Oration yesterday.

Prof Hamilton said the policy is harming the UK’s interests.

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He said: “Wherever I travel in the world, particularly in China and India, one question persists. Why has the UK adopted a visa system so hostile to student entry? I do my best to answer but, frankly, the question baffles me as well.

“For the first time in decades, the number of international students at our universities has dropped, most markedly from India. Why are we doing this to them and to ourselves?”

Research by Oxford University’s own Migration Observatory, Prof Hamilton said, has shown that the public do not link overseas student numbers with immigration issues.

In his speech he also said that the university is committed to working towards boosting Oxfordshire’s economy and tackling the issues that face the region.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Whilst the government has not shied away from taking tough action on abuse, we continue to welcome genuine students to our world-class universities.

“The UK remains the second most popular destination for international higher education students, after the USA.”

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