UK further education colleges have been upset by comments made by the UK immigration minister, Damian Green.
05 October 2010
Colleges respond to UK Student Visa ‘misunderstanding’
Large UK colleges have expressed offence at recent comments by the UK immigration minister, Damian Green, that international students applying for further education "may, or frankly may not be the brightest and the best".
Members of The 157 Group, an organisation that represents 28 large further education colleges in England, have said they are offended and bewildered at the implication that their non-EU intake contains second-rate students who use further education as a front for bogus UK Student Visa applications.
Mr Green’s remarks about further education institutions, and the conclusion that not "every student visa issued is necessarily benefiting Britain", has caused concern and dismay by what Principals feel is a failure to grasp what these colleges offer for about 66,000 foreign students every year.
Green's position is that the UK immigration system should help "the world's best students", whom he defines as those wanting to pursue their education at elite universities in the UK.
However, principals say it's misguided to think that colleges don't recruit the brightest and the best, to teach vocational skills that employers want in the UK and overseas. Furthermore many of these graduates use their vocational courses as a stepping stone to pursue a degree at university.
Further education collages have also been impacted by UK Visa changes. The recent tightening of visa requirements has meant that all colleges that wish to recruit non-EU students have had to obtain a Highly Trusted sponsor status with the UK Border Agency – a level of monitoring that universities don’t undertake.