Royal College of Art rector Dr Paul Thompson and University of the Arts London vice-chancellor Nigel Carrington are among signatories to a letter published in the Guardian which says the plan would cause “particular damage” to the creative sector.
According to reports, May is considering a plan which would see foreign graduates sent back to their home countries. They would then have to apply for a work visa while abroad instead of being able to do so while on British soil.
In the Guardian letter, Thompson and Carrington are joined by co-signatories Patrick Loughrey, warden at Goldsmiths, and Professor John Last, vice-chancellor at Norwich University of the Arts.
They describe the plans as “the first deliberate attempt by a mainstream UK politician to stop the brain-drain operating in our favour”.
The letter continues: “UK universities train a very high proportion of the world’s best graduates in creative disciplines. From film to fine art, design to fashion, the creative industries depend on international networks of practitioners and businesses. These industries now form one of the biggest sectors in the UK economy.
“Our borders must remain open to the world’s best to attract, train and retain highly skilled professionals and to protect our creative industries.”
The criticism from the education sector comes after Sir James Dyson penned an article in the Guardian also slamming the plans.
In his piece, Dyson said: “May’s immigration plans simply force the nimble minds we nurture to return home and create competition overseas… Instead, our education system should be a tool to import the world’s greatest minds. And, most importantly, to keep them here, so our economy – and our culture – benefits.”