11 February 2010

Stricter UK Student Visa rules increases university funding concerns

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The stricter Tier 4 Student Visa regulations announced by the Home Office yesterday have raised serious concerns that the changes could severely restrict funding for UK colleges and universities.

Tier 4 Student Visa

Changes to the Tier 4 Student Visa system could impact on university funding levels.

The increased Tier 4 regulations, imposed partly due to an increase in suspected bogus applications, coincide with sharp cuts to university funding and losses in university places for students.

University Vice-chancellors have already complained that the UK immigration decision last month to suspend student visa applications from northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal is already affecting enrolments.

It is estimated students from outside the EU contribute around £120,000 each to the economy through study fees and living costs, iaccording to the Study Group which runs independent colleges in the UK.

A report by the civil liberties group the Manifesto Club released today found that the successive tightening of the Tier 4 system has already stopped thousands of genuine students from commencing studies in the UK.

The organisation claims that the new points-based visa system introduced last year, imposes “burdensome new requirements on international students and academics – including higher visa fees, biometric profiling, and a requirement to prove up to £7,000 savings".

The Manifesto Club claims the new system has led to the doubling of student visa rejections, from 25 per cent to 50 per cent and "students have been rejected for a variety of trivial reasons, including having written 'Malaysian' instead of 'Malaysia' under country, or for the colour background used in their photograph."

The new regulations introduced require overseas students to have higher standards of English (the equivalent of just below GCSE), and allow them to work only 10 hours a week during term-time (half the previous level), and those studying for less than six months in the UK are not allowed to bring in  dependents.

In addition, only those colleges deemed to be "highly trusted sponsors" will be allowed to enrol overseas students from outside the EU.

Publicly-funded universities and colleges will automatically be accorded as a highly trusted sponsor, providing that no evidence of abuse emerges, and an accreditation system for all independent colleges will come into effect by 6 April.

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

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