‘Ban to be lifted on March 1’
14th February 2010: The United Kingdom announced partial lifting of ban on accepting visa applications from students in North India for higher studies. The decision has sent a wave of relief among thousands of aspirants at an advanced stage of enrolling at British universities.
The Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Pat McFadden, said, "The suspension was taken in response to a huge flow in applications over a very short period of time."
He added that the ban will be lifted on March 1 for all students looking forward to undertake higher education courses, whether foundation degrees, undergraduate or postgraduate in UK. At the same time he asserted the "pause" on visas would remain for students going for "lower level, sub-university" studies.
This would be lifted once the UK sets up a system of "highly-trusted sponsors" for sub-university academic institutions. "Institutions will have to register with the UK Border Agency and other bodies," he added. They will have to satisfy the government that their principal motive is education and not providing work.
Student visas from north India were suspended on February 1, causing concern among thousands of students, their families and also British universities who depend on high fee-paying students for a substantial part of their revenue.
According to official figures, the direct value of students from India and other non-European Union countries to the UK economy is estimated at 8.5 billion pounds annually. Currently, there are nearly 50,000 Indian students studying in British universities and colleges.
UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson has announced a number of changes to the criteria of Tier 4 of the point-based system, following a review of its operation.
He said bogus students will find it difficult to gain entry and work in the UK illegally. The new regulations will ensure that students studying below the degree level have a limited ability to work in the UK. Further the dependants of these students cannot work there at all.