Home Secretary announces student visa restrictions

University Vice Chancellors, campaigners, politicians and economists have all pointed to the adverse effects on the UK’s economy that restrictions on overseas students would have. Professor Eric Thomas, VC of Bristol University has spoken out against the curbs saying the overseas students provide an important income stream for his university.

The Home Secretary today mainly targetted further education, and private colleges in her restrictions on student visas.

In her announcement today, Theresa May revealed that:

  • Undergraduates will not be able to bring their family members with them- only post-graduate students/Government sponsored students will be eligible for visas for dependants.
  • There will be more stringent requirements for those deemed to come from ‘high risk’ countries, and less stringent requirements for so called low risk countries as part of a streamlining process. We’ve previously blogged about this concerning development.
  • There will be more exacting demands for the purpose of  evidencing the ability of applicants to support themselves.
  • The expected level of English amongst applicants will increase to B2 level for degree level courses (AS level) and B1 for those below degree level.
  • Anyone who is not at a university or publicly funded further education college will have no right to work
  • There will be restrictions on work placements on courses outside of universities
  • The overall time spent on a student visa will be limited to three years at lower levels and five years at higher levels

The Post Study Work route will be closed in 2012, but graduates who have an offer of a skilled job from a sponsoring employer with a salary in excess of £20,000 will be permitted to remain.

Colleges targetted

All institutions will be expected to achieve Highly Trusted Sponsor status by 2012 after having been vetted by statutory education inspection bodies.

After spending much of her statement focussing on bogus colleges and the bogus students attracted by them, the Home Secretary was keen to stress that the responsibility for ensuring students are attending lectures  lies with the staff of the university or college.

Although Theresa May estimated that these measures would lead to a fall in student visas of about 70 – 80,000, it is unclear to what extent universities will be adversely affected given that a sizeable number of their student intake comes from these colleges.

Economically regressive

Habib Rahman, Chief Executive of JCWI said “It’s in no one’s interest to have anything but bona fide colleges in the UK. However, these measures will discriminate against students from developing countries by subjecting them to different and more exacting requirements. They are also entirely at odds with the Government’s wider objective of stimulating growth through the private sector.’

The restrictions on colleges, but also on degree level students bringing their dependants to the UK, will split families up and  have an adverse affect on university applications, at a  time that universities can scarcely afford to see yet further lowering in their revenue following the cuts.

A summary of  the proposals can be found on the UKBA website, see also the Home Office media centre for a news release.

The Hansard of Theresa May’s statement and the ensuing debate is on the Parliament website.

About jcwi

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is a key campaigning voice in the field of immigration, asylum and nationality law and policy. It is completely independent from government funding, remaining entirely free from government influence. View all posts by jcwi

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