New measures preventing international students from bringing family to the UK could damage vital services across Norwich, an MP has warned.

Clive Lewis has slammed government restrictions which will stop overseas students from bringing dependants to the country unless they are postgraduate research courses or government-funded scholarships.

Norwich Evening News: Norwich South MP Clive LewisNorwich South MP Clive Lewis (Image: UK Parliament)

"This is partly a consequence of Brexit, the associated xenophobia and the idea that so many problems can be solved by keeping foreigners out," said Labour's Norwich South MP. 

"But the reality is people come to our city and country to greatly enrich our culture and make contributions, as well as providing vital services like adult social care.

"All of this applies to institutions like the University of East Anglia (UEA) which benefits academically and financially from the presence of overseas students. 

Norwich Evening News: Ministers at Number 10 believe the policy will help to prevent misuse of the visa systemMinisters at Number 10 believe the policy will help to prevent misuse of the visa system (Image: PA)

"What kind of message does this send to pupils abroad that their families are not welcome throughout the duration of their studies here?"

The policy is a part of Downing Street's strategy to "prevent misuse of the visa system". 

Ministers say it will see around 140,000 fewer people come to the UK each year.

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But the UEA has already said the number of international students applying to study in the UK is "collapsing" amid of string of changes, which include raising the income threshold for skilled worker visas and a review of the graduate visa programme.

This has raised eyebrows across the Higher Education sector, with industry body Universities UK finding that overseas students contributed £41.9bn to the UK economy in 2021-22 - up from £31.3bn in 2018-19.

Around 3,500 international students are currently enrolled at the UEA, accounting for roughly 25pc of the university's student population.

Norwich Evening News: The University of East Anglia has warned the number of international students is collapsingThe University of East Anglia has warned the number of international students is collapsing (Image: Denise Bradley)

Speaking on the latest government announcement, a UEA spokesman said: “International students are a huge contributor to the national economy.

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"But this goes beyond economic impact – they are a pipeline of talent, enrich our student community experience and enhance the UK’s soft power.

“International students are very welcome at UEA and in the city of Norwich.

"They are essential to the rich and diverse community at our university, and we will continue to advise government of this through any consultation they may seek within the Higher Education sector so that our international students continue to feel welcome here.”

UEA's financial crisis

The University of East Anglia is still recovering from high-profile financial problems, partly caused by a reduction in student numbers caused by the pandemic.

Bosses needed to save £30m in 2023 - and £45m over the next three years - and initially saved £6m through a voluntary severance scheme.

It had been feared that compulsory redundancies would be needed but, following several high-profile incidents and fallouts, it was later confirmed this last resort would not be needed.

With David Maguire starting as vice chancellor in May, the UEA was able to bring forward a pay award to staff to December 2023 - having previously deferred it until January.

Prof Maguire has said the university needs to concentrate on attracting local students as well as "China, India and Nigeria as key international markets".