The UK Visa changes for foreign students could affect course quality, universities have said.
07 March 2011
UK Visa restrictions may close courses, warn universities
The Home Secretary Theresa May has been urged by an alliance of vice chancellors from 16 universities to abandon proposals to reduce immigration by restricting UK Visas issued to foreign students.
In a letter to the Observer this weekend, the vice-chancellors express their "profound concern" at the UK Visa proposals, arguing they would have a devastating effect on universities' incomes.
The reduction in the number of overseas students, who pay up to eight times more than British undergraduates, would affect the ability of British Universities to run the best courses and could led to some courses being discontinued.
Figures show students from outside Britain and the EU pay an average of £10,463 in tuition fees – a rise of 5.6 per cent on last year.
The vice chancellors, said: ''International students coming to universities contribute over £5bn each year to the UK economy through tuition fees and off-campus expenditure. 'Reductions in student numbers will lead to reductions in income and jobs.
"Without international students, many university courses, particularly science and engineering courses, may no longer be viable. This will in turn reduce the courses available to UK students.
"International students bring extensive cultural and political benefits to the UK. When they return to their countries at the end of their studies, they become cultural and economic ambassadors for the UK.
"At a time of financial austerity, this issue is of immeasurable importance to the UK.''
The proposals would affect students from outside the EU applying for visas under what is known as tier four of the UK immigration points-based system.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Any criticism can only be based on speculation as no decisions have yet been made on the changes to the student visa route. 'However, universities that are confident in the product they have to offer genuine students should have nothing to fear from policies that root out abuses in the student visa system."