`Review 600 institutes to see if students can get post study work visas’

Professor David Metcalf says he is `stunned’

4th December 2009: It’s getting tougher for the students in the UK.

Just over a fortnight after Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s announcement on review of student visas made it clear that less number of foreign students may find a place in the UK, Government’s chief immigration adviser has fired another salvo.

Professor David Metcalf, chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has called for a good look at 600-odd institutes that were not ‘proper’ universities to see if it was legitimate for the students there to get post study work visas.

He has, in fact, sought a review of "lower tier" colleges. The demand follows apprehensions that too many foreign students are being given visas at the end of their degree courses.

With this, it is clear that Professor Metcalf believes tens of thousands of immigrants were gaining the right to work in the UK by obtaining degrees from 600 colleges which are not ‘proper’ universities.

Claiming to have been "stunned", he said hundreds of colleges, which were not "proper" universities, were in a position to grant two-year work and residence visas to non-EU students.

Statistically speaking, 42,000 students were granted two-year visas in the last one year under the Post Study Work Route (PSWR). It is part of Tier 1 of the points-based system, which is aimed at highly skilled migrants.

Available information suggests foreign students at 154 major universities were automatically granted visas after completing their degree courses. But besides this, 599 other bodies, colleges included, could also hand out degrees, and accompanying visas. The larger group included colleges for homeopathic education, Chinese medicine and circus skills.

Professor Metcalf elaborated there were about 150 that are universities; and there were another 600-odd that were not ‘proper’ universities. They were basically further education colleges, getting their degrees validated by one of the universities.

He said a good look was required at these institutions to see if it was legitimate for all the students studying there on all the courses to get post study work visas.

Issuing a warning, Professor Metcalf said possibility could not be ruled out that foreign students unable to get highly-skilled jobs were taking lower-paid jobs away from Britons.

By Monika

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