British Council, Universities UK criticize visa changes for students

Two educational organisations have expressed their views over recently announced changes to UK visa openings for international students. The institutions have claimed they will damage the UK’s appeal.



The British Council and Universities UK have claimed that international students, mainly those from India, will choose to study elsewhere when new UK visa policy would come into effect in the next few months.

The British Council echoed Universities UK’s concerns in a report titled ‘Impact of Visa Changes on Student Mobility and Outlook for the UK’ in which an ‘urgent review’ of the student visa changes was called for.

The report stated “The sooner this situation was addressed, the more contained the damage of bad publicity overseas would be.”

Under the changes, announced recently by Immigration Minister Damian Green, international students will only be able to remain in the UK after graduating, if they have a job earning over £20,000 or have £50,000 worth of venture to begin their own business.

Green said the change would address the issue of foreign nationals entering the UK with the affirmed reason to study but actually coming solely to work. Green said limiting the criteria to stay would limit abuse of the UK immigration system. But several universities and colleges have condemned the announcement.

A report published by the National Union of Students confirmed the choice of post-study was a beneficial incentive. More than 75 per cent claimed post-study work was a valuable incentive and almost 70 per cent stated they would not advocate the UK without this option.

Chief executive of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge said that they supported the elimination of misuse in the visa system. But at the same time they were concerned that an unintended consequence of the changes to Tier 4 [student visa] was that legitimate students would be put off, or prevented from studying in the UK.

Dandridge added they were mainly concerned about limited provisions for post-study employment in the new rules.

Dandridge asserted they were familiar that the unhindered admission to the labour market was not possible in the current economic climate. But the new rules risk having an uneven influence on particular sectors, regions and professions, and reducing the global talent pool from which employers could employ.

The rate of applications from Indian students, usually one of the most crowded demographics of international students, had reportedly already seen a 30 per cent drop.

Dandrige said the UK was already losing market share in what was a growing market. She asserted that reducing their competitiveness further would amount to a missed opportunity for growth. Infact the alternative of post-study work was a useful incentive to potential students to choose to study in the UK, even if many did not take it up.

Meanwhile, about a week back the industries had also criticised the UK visa restrictions for students.

UK to see upswing in visitors in 2012

Stop deportations public meeting on 25 February 2012