The British Council joined other education bodies in criticising new UK visa policy.
22 February 2012
Universities oppose UK visa changes
Two educational institutions have spoken out over recently announced changes to UK visa opportunities for international students, claiming they will damage the UK's appeal.
The British Council and Universities UK have claimed that international students, particularly those from India, will choose to study elsewhere when new UK visa regulations take effect in the next few months.
Under the changes, announced recently by Immigration Minister Damian Green, international students will only be able to remain in the UK after graduating if they have a job earning over £20,000 or have £50,000 worth of investment to begin their own business.
Mr Green said the change would address the issue of foreign nationals entering the UK with the stated purpose to study but actually coming solely to work. Mr Green said restricting the criteria to stay would limit abuse of the UK immigration system but several universities and colleges have criticised the announcement.
Chief executive of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge said: "We support the elimination of abuse in the visa system but are concerned that an unintended consequence of the changes to Tier 4 [student visa] is that legitimate students will be put off, or prevented from studying in the UK.
"We are particularly concerned about limited provisions for post-study employment in the new rules. We recognise that unrestricted access to the labour market is not possible in the current economic climate, but the new rules risk having a disproportionate impact on particular sectors, regions and professions, and reducing the global talent pool from which employers can recruit."
The British Council echoed Universities UK's concerns in a report titled 'Impact of Visa Changes on Student Mobility and Outlook for the UK' in which an 'urgent review' of the student visa changes was called for:
"The sooner this situation is addressed, the more contained the damage of bad publicity overseas will be" said the report.
The rate of applications from Indian students, traditionally one of the most populous demographics of international students, has reportedly already seen a 30% decline.
"The UK is already losing market share in what is a growing market," said Ms Dandridge. "Reducing our competitiveness further will amount to a missed opportunity for growth.
"The option of post-study work is a valuable incentive to prospective students to choose to study in the UK, even if many don’t take it up”.
A report published by the National Union of Students confirmed this option as a valuable incentive, with over 75% claiming post-study work was a valuable incentive and almost 70% stating they would not recommend the UK without this option.
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.