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UK Considering Further Clampdown on International Student Visas

The Conservative government is planning a further clampdown on international student visas to cut immigrant numbers. Read more below.
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   15-09-2016

The British government, led by Theresa May, is reportedly considering a further clampdown on international student visas. This is expected to lead to a further decline in the number of international students flocking to British universities.

Already, over the last year, there has been a significant drop in the numbers of international students applying for UK’s Tier-4 student visas. According to a report by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the number of South Asian students has fallen by almost 50%. China and India are two of the top three sources of international students in the UK. But the number of Indian students is sharply declining since the abolition of post study work visas in 2012. Now, rumours of a fresh crackdown is causing serious concern.

Carly Minsky of Times Higher Education was reported as saying, “This [decline in international student numbers] happened in 2011 when the Home Office clamped down on fraudulent visa applications and sponsorships, and in 2012 when the post-study work visa that enabled students to work in the UK for up to two years after graduation was abolished. It is highly likely that the numbers of Indian students applying to the UK will continue to decline if further visa restrictions are proposed.”

This move is seen as part of the Conservative government’s agenda, which involves restricting net immigrants to tens of thousands, where it is now more than 300,000. The government believes that one way of achieving this is by making student and work visas tougher and ensuring students return to their home countries after graduation.

Tier-4 visas are already a difficult process for non-EU students. However, the Home Office is planning to make a small exception when it comes to those accepted in masters courses at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and the Imperial College London. A pilot visa scheme introduced by the Home Office will reduce documentation and allow students enrolled in these universities to stay for 6 months after graduation,  look for a job, and apply for a Tier-2 work visa.

As more and more students are heading abroad, countries are welcoming them by relaxing visa procedures and improving post-study work options, for example, the US and Canada. In the meanwhile, the UK continues its jingoistic rhetoric without realizing the value added by international students to a country’s culture and economy. If it follows up with these regressive policies, Britain will find it hard to retain its competitive edge in the world’s higher education sector.
 

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