Quarter of a million fewer overseas student visas to be given out

Crackdown on student visa abuse to cut immigration by 230,000 in 4 years


13th June, 2011: It’s getting tougher for the students. The latest Home Office estimate suggests the restrain on overseas student numbers will cut total net migration to Britain by 230,000 between now and 2015.

This is aimed to make an important contribution to the government’s goal of dropping net migration to "tens of thousands" each year.

Roughly  a quarter of a million fewer overseas student visas  are expected to be given out over the next five years as a result of changes to the student visa system, according to Home Office figures published on Monday.

This is being done in spite of caution from people in the higher education sector and others that she was endangering a £40bn-a-year industry.

But the new estimate is considerably lower than the 400,000 figure cited by the home secretary, Theresa May, when she gave details of the visa changes in March.

May told MPs on March 22, that the package would limit student numbers by 25 percent and cut net migration by 70,000 to 80,000 a year.

 That would mean the changes would cut net migration by 400,000 in total by 2015, compared with the figure of 230,000 now being quoted by the Home Office. May’s estimate of an 80,000-a-year cut in annual net migration has been reduced to 46,000.

The estimate has been mounted back, before the expected publication this week of the Whitehall impact evaluation of the student visa changes which has to be produced for parliament.

When May announced the package in March she said the reform of the student visa system was needed not only to confront abuse but also to meet the government’s target of reducing annual net migration to below 100,000.

Since that declaration, the Conservatives’ goal of dipping net migration to "tens of thousands" by the time of the 2015 general election has become much harder to achieve.

The Home office statement proposes that they expect the new student visas policies to lead to a net drop of around 230,000 student migrants over the full term of this parliament, from 2011 to 2015. "That is a 230,000 reduction in net migration."

The Home Office said the result of the midway and full effects of the student visa changes, led it to estimate that there would be around 260,000 fewer student visa grants. Even the visas issued to dependant relatives will also be around 100,000 fewer over the full five years.

The changes to the student visa system which came into force in April include tighter rules on the accreditation of private colleges that can sponsor overseas students. Tougher English language requirements, tighter rules on students working part-time, restrictions on which students can bring dependants with them, maximum time limits of between three and five years on the length of courses, and severe restrictions on who can stay on to work after completing their studies are some of the rules.

A Home Office spokesman added that seven colleges or educational providers had been suspended from being able to pay for overseas students since the changes came into effect on 21 April. They include the Manchester-based Academy of Global Education, which had scope for 270 students and was found to be paying an illegal migrant.


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