August 21, 2014

New UK visa rules deemed "unwelcoming" for foreign students

The UK government is making it more difficult for universities to accept foreign students.

New measures, outlined by the Prime Minister in the Daily Telegraph, include cutting the visa refusal rate a higher education institution would need before it loses its status as a trusted sponsor. The figure is currently 20%, and this is going down to 10%.

The move is widely seen to make more political than economic sense, and groups so-called “bogus colleges” – fronts for dubious immigration practices – together with reputable institutions. Some legitimate colleges of tertiary education such as the University of Buckingham receive over half of their students from overseas, and stand to lose out from the negative press the measure will generate abroad.

Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, believes that the measures are “bound to encourage the idea that the UK does not welcome international students,” and that they are “yet more evidence that the Home Office is more interested in headlines than working […] with the university sector.”

Lord Bilimoria, co-founder of Cobra Beer, is also opposed to the move. He commented: “Foreign students bring in well over £10 billion to the economy […] The bridges that are built last for many years.”

Arnaud Chevalier discusses this in more detail. He asserts that student migration can foster economic growth in both home and destination countries, and that eliminating visa restrictions increases both the number and quality of incoming students.

Some are arguing that this is an attempt by the Conservatives to outflank UKIP and its anti-immigration stance after their recent successes in the European Parliament elections, and in the face of an uncertain general election in 2015.

Read more here.

Related articles:
How to attract foreign students, by Arnaud Chevalier