Government sets out proposals for major reform of the student visa system
Posted on December 28, 2010
The UK government published a consultation on the reform of Tier 4 of the Points Based System – the student entry route to the UK.
The UK Border Agency has confirmed that the government is poised to introduce tougher entrance criteria, limits on work and an end to students staying in the UK to look for a job. These are just some of the proposed changes announced by Immigration Minister Damian Green. The announcement signals a major shake-up of the current student visa system.
A public consultation has been launched by the UK Border Agency on the reform of the student entry route to the UK of the points-based system. UK Border agency statistics showed that 41 per cent of students coming through Tier 4 route of the points based system into the United Kingdom were studying below degree level courses.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
‘I believe attracting talented students from abroad is vital to the UK but we must be more selective about who can come here and how long they can stay.
‘people imagine students to be those who come here for a few years to study at university and then go home – that is not always the case. Too many students coming to study at below degree level have been coming here to live and work, rather than studying. We need to stop this abuse.
‘Today’s proposals follow a major review of the system, and are aimed at a more selective system and, crucially, reducing the numbers to meet our of reducing net migration to sustainable levels.’ target
The proposed consultation is set to take up to 8 weeks to complete. Its main agenda sets out to obtain views on a variety of approaches of methods to reduce the number of students that can come into the UK. Some of the proposals include:
· “reducing the number of people coming to the UK to study at below degree level;
· introducing a tougher English language requirement;
· ensuring students wishing to extend their studies show evidence of academic progression;
· limiting students’ entitlements to work and their ability to bring in dependants; and
· improving the accreditation process for education providers, alongside more rigorous inspection”
The government has committed to making changes across the immigration system to achieve its overall aim of reducing net migration, in addition to the introduction of an annual limit on workers from outside Europe. The student route accounts for two-thirds of migrants entering the UK each year, which is why it is a key focus for reform.
Damian Green added:
‘This Government wants high caliber students with the genuine desire to study to come to our country to come for temporary periods, and then return home. We want to hear views of our proposals from a wide range of people so that our reforms meet this objective’
The new measures could mean that prospective tier 4 student admittance into the UK under the points based system is streamlined and restricted to those studying largely degree level courses only and to child students, unless the institution is a Highly Trusted Sponsor. Additionally, the English language competence is set to be introduced as a prerequisite demonstrating applicants’ eligibility to complete a higher level course. Once introduced and implemented, all Tier 4 applicants must pass a secure English language test demonstrating sufficient proficiency in English language at least at competence levels of intermediary level B2, a step up from the B1 currently required.
Another major revamp to be re introduced is to ensure students return overseas after their course finishes. The drive to ensure that students return overseas after their course finishes will mean students will have to leave the UK and apply for a new visa to further their studies, and show evidence of progression to a higher course. It will also see the closure of the post-study route under Tier 1.
The UK Border Agency announced that the Government is committed to monitoring compliance schemes of sponsors’ duties as part of looking at ways to improve the inspection and accreditation of the education sector. The UK government seeks to ensure the courses offered by private institutions of further and higher education is of the highest quality as required under regulation.
The objective is to encourage all those genuine students coming to study at the UK’s world class academic institutions. However, plans to end the Tier 1 Post Study route will be bad news for Universities, which also benefit from foreign students who begin their UK studies at private colleges and language schools.
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