On the floor of the House of Commons this afternoon, Cumbrian MP Tim Farron accused the Government of threatening to undermine local universities.
Yesterday, the Home Office announced new overseas students will no longer be able to bring family with them except under specific circumstances.
Jo Grady, the general secretary of the University and College Union, said the proposals were "a vindictive move" and "deeply shameful".
Speaking during an Urgent Question on the proposals, Tim said: "The University of Cumbria and Lancaster University are hugely successful institutions. We're very proud of them.
"They're really important to our economy and indeed they are very successful exporters.
"What is their export? High quality education delivered in the United Kingdom. So why is the government seeking to stifle our great exporters' ability to export?
"Why have they become suddenly anti-free market?
"And will the Minister recognise that by earning money through international students, British universities are able to cross-subsidise services and places for British students?
"Won't British students be the people who pay the price?
Responding, the Minister for Immigration Robert Jenrick said: "The economic benefit of international students is clear, and we welcome that.
"But we don't want British universities to become totally reliant on income from international students.
"Just a few years ago, that was accounting for 5% of their income. Last year it was 18%. And without measures like this, no doubt it would continue to rise.
"To his broader point of course, we want to support universities like his own, to thrive and to prosper and to market themselves internationally.
"But the business of universities is education, not immigration."