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Lord Karan Bilimoria Speaks Out on 'Good Immigration'

The big issue driving UK politics seems to be immigration. The argument will only be fuelled after this week's net migration figures. But Lord Karan Bilimoria, the recently installed Chancellor of the University of Birmingham - the Indian-born founder of the Cobra Beer empire - says that there is such a thing as "good immigration". Bilimoria believes that David Cameron had made a "big mistake".

Photograph:  BBC News Photograph: BBC News
28-11-2014 by BBC News

The big issue driving our politics seems to be immigration - from every doorstep on every street, to Westminster, Brussels and beyond, right up to the general election and who knows for how long after that.

"And this week's net migration figures will only add fuel to the argument."

"Suddenly it's difficult to find anyone who has anything good to say about it at all."

ButLord Karan Bilimoria, the recently installed Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, says there is such a thing as "good immigration".

Bilimoria, the Indian-born founder of the Cobra Beer empire, told the Mail on Sunday earlier this month that Britain would pay a high price for its latest clampdown, which includes tougher rules on student visas.

By promising "unattainable" targets, Bilimoria believes that David Cameron had made a "big mistake".  It is these targets he believes, from which the home secretary now admits the government has been "blown off course".

'The government has lost control of illegal immigration'

Lord Bilimoria gives a hard-hitting interview.  He says: "The number of international students to Britain fell for the first time last year. And the number from India have collapsed by over 20%.

"Why? Because the government has an immigration policy that is sending out very damaging signals.

"I challenge the Home Secretary Theresa May to say how many illegal immigrants are there. She hasn't a clue because they've lost control of illegal immigration."

Bilimoria says that there should be new targets to increase the numbers of international students.

"France plans to double its number of students from India by 2020"

"The University of Birmingham is one of two members of the elite Russell Group of research-led universities here in the Midlands. The other, Warwick, says its 5,000-plus international students bring in fees totalling nearly £90m, which is then reinvested to the benefit of British students."

According to a spokesperson for Warwick University: "The government may say Britain is open for business but they're sending out a message that's not so welcoming." 

Bilimoria making an impression

The University of Birmingham charges slightly lower fees than Warwick but with its 4,500 international students, brings in a total of nearly £60m.

Lord Bilimoria visited this week India, accompanied by his vice chancellor and led by the universities minister, Greg Clark.

Lord Bilimoria has only been in office as chancellor for four months, but he seems determined to be no mere ceremonial figurehead.
The seems that he could make an impression.