11 October 2010

Tighter UK Student Visa rules will hurt Scotland’s universities

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Scotland Education Secretary Michael Russell and leading university principals have protested over the UK Government’s plans for tighter immigration controls for students.

UK Student Visa

Tighter UK Student Visa rules have been called unnecessary and damaging for Scottish universities.

Mr Russell and leading university principals have written a joint letter to UK Immigration Minister Damian Green arguing that changes to UK Student Visa rules will damage higher education in Scotland.

The Coalition proposes to tighten up UK Student Visa rules, a move it claims will discourage bogus students.
Signatories on the letter argue that the measures to crack down on bogus students will unfairly impact on the university sector, where most international students are genuine.

“The overwhelming majority of students in attendance at bona fide higher education institutions are genuine students who aspire to gain new qualifications,” the letter states.
“As such, there is a strong sector sense that bona fide tertiary education is being over-regulated in an attempt to address abuse … which actually occurs elsewhere.

“In light of Scotland’s particular demographic circumstances we are keen to engage with the UK Government to discuss a more flexible immigration approach to meet Scottish needs.”

In a separate attack on the immigration system, universities and lecturers in Scotland have also opposed tighter controls over the influx of skilled international workers, arguing that vital university research will be impacted.

The Government has in place a temporary UK Visa cap, before the permanent cap on the number of non-EU nationals who can come to the UK for work is introduced in April.

UCU Scotland, which represents lecturers, opposes the introduction of a permanent restriction on skilled workers and has said that that the recent imposition of a temporary cap has already caused problems.

Mary Senior, the union’s Scottish official, said: “We question the need for such a stringent immigration policy for the UK in general, but for Scotland, which has a declining population and skills shortages, it makes even less sense. A cap on the number of skilled workers directly affects universities, who rely on highly skilled workers and who recruit on the global basis, reflecting their international outlook”.

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