03 December 2009

Cambridge colleges say UK Student Visa review could cost them

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A number of Cambridge colledges say the UK Government review of UK student visas could have serious financial implications for the schools and the city's economy.

Cambridge is a long-established destination for foreign language students, and thousands arrive to improve their English language skills each year.

It is estimated that these students contribute £78 million a year to the economy of Cambridge but colleges in the town feel that financial boost has been under threat after it was announced there would be a review of how a  UK student visa is allocated.

It is believed that if the UK immigration review recommends visas are granted only to foreign students on degree and postgraduate courses, the consequences could be ruinous for Cambridge's English language schools and Cambridge.

English UK is the national association of 435 accredited English language centres, with more than one in 20 of all its member schools in Cambridgeshire.

The influx of students into the area benefits the schools and staff, but also homestay providers, restaurants, pubs and other businesses.

John Barnett, principal of the Girton-based Cambridge Academy of English and spokesman for the English UK eastern region, said schools had been working closely with the relevant Government departments to come up with arrangements for the points-based UK Visa system that would not be detrimental to an important industry for the UK.

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their UK Visa applications with the British High Commission.

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