A group of economists is urging British Chancellor George Osborne to defend his pro-growth agenda by modifying immigration curbs that would damage the nation's competitiveness and growth, the Financial Times said on Monday.

In a letter to the newspaper, the economists expressed criticism of forthcoming changes to Home Office policy which are expected to limit economic migrants from outside the European Union to a five-year stay, after which those who did not earn a high enough salary would have to return home, the newspaper reported.

The economists said changes which discourage migrants from coming to Britain would be deeply damaging to the competitiveness of the country's science and research sectors, as well as the wider economy.

The policy could almost have been designed to deter the migrants whom we most want and, for those who do come, to expel many of those we would most like to remain, the letter reads, according to the FT.

The newspaper reported that the letter's signatories, who include Nobel laureate Chris Pissarides and Richard Portes, president of the Centre for Economic Policy Research, said had such a policy been in place when some of them were considering moving to Britain, they may not have come at all -- or if they had come, they may not have been allowed to remain in the country.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Kim COghill)