New rules for non-EEA students announced by the Home Office 30 October 2008. Under the new Australian-style points system, which will be rolled out from March next year, colleges and universities who want to teach non European Economic Area (EEA) nationals must have a licence issued by the UK Border Agency.
Licensed institutions can then sponsor non EEA students to come to study in the UK.
The system will clamp down on bogus students and ensure only those who benefit Britain can continue to come. Before they can study here, foreign students must be sponsored by a UK Border Agency-licensed education institution, supply their fingerprints and meet new criteria.
From March next year the following measures will come into effect:
• all colleges and universities that want to recruit foreign students will need a sponsor licence;
• every student will need a licensed sponsor;
• stricter rules to protect the UK’s labour market.
From autumn 2009 the system will be tightened further with the introduction of a ‘sponsor management system’ – dedicated technology that will make it easier for universities and colleges to inform the UK Border Agency if students fail to enrol or miss more than ten sessions.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
"International students contribute £2.5 billion to the UK economy in tuition fees alone. The student tier of the points system means Britain can continue to recruit good students from outside Europe.
"Those who come to Britain must play by the rules and benefit the country. This new route for students will ensure we know exactly who is coming here to study and stamp out bogus colleges which facilitate the lawbreakers."
Since 1 January 2005, almost 300 bogus colleges have been removed from the Department for Universities and Skills Register of Education and Training Providers.
Britain’s labour market will be protected by tough new rules which mean visas will only be granted to students who show a proven track record in education and are applying for a course that meets a minimum level of qualification. Students must also be able to demonstrate they can financially support themselves and any of their dependants.
Minister of State for Higher Education David Lammy said:
"I welcome the education sector’s involvement in developing this implementation plan, which will help to ensure we have a structure that allows international students to benefit from the excellent educational experience the UK offers, while giving them the opportunity to work in the UK for two years following graduation.
"However, we will not tolerate the minority of individuals who seek to damage the quality of our education system through bogus colleges. This is why we have introduced tighter checks to the current Register of Education and Training Providers. The new system will toughen this process further and give extra protection from the damage bogus colleges can cause."
Colleges and universities have been able to sign up to the sponsorship register since July.