The government will not reconsider its cap on immigration, Home Office Minister Lord Henley has said.
During oral questions in the Lords on 19 December 2011, Lord Henley said: "Our changes mean that we will continue to welcome the brightest and the best...while at the same time we are putting an end to the unlimited migration of recent years."
He was responding to a question from Lib Dem peer Lord Taverne, who asked whether the government would reconsider its curbs on immigration in the light of "their effect on competitiveness and economic growth".
While acknowledging "the need for some control", Lord Taverne urged the government to take note of a recent letter by a group of academics who came to the UK from outside the EU.
He said the academics "would not have come if they had been told at the start that they would not be allowed to stay".
Lord Henley said the university sector was "not complaining" about the policy.
Opposition spokesman Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said the government's policy of targeting so-called "bogus colleges" was having a negative effect on universities.
Lord Henley accused Labour of having failed to tackle bogus colleges when it was in government.
Labour peer Baroness Hollis said the UK risked losing fees from non-EU students and the opportunity to "export their skills back to their home country".
The Conservatives' Lord Cormack said that applying the cap to students was "having a deterrent and a potentially disastrous effect" and suggested that students could be placed in a separate category.
Labour's Lord Tomlinson urged the government to take note of a report from the House of Commons' Home Affairs Committee which said that "students should not be treated as migrants".
Lord Henley maintained that there had been abuses of the system, including overseas students bringing their families with them to live in the UK.
"If there is an abuse in the system, we have a duty to tackle that," he said.
Other questions concerned the Thames Tideway Tunnel, claims outstanding under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 and the Winter Fuel Payment.