24 February 2009

New UK visa fees may discourage foreign students

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Universities are concerned that the new visa fees as released by the British Government yesterday would discourage international students from choosing Britain.

In a media release from Universities UK, chief executive of the organisation Diana Warwick said they are disappointed that the Home Office has approved this UK visa fee climb without consulting the higher education sector, and that the Home Office seems to be sending a clear "message that it does not welcome international students."

"International students contribute far more to the UK academically, culturally and financially than they use in terms of public resources.  We are very privileged as a country to welcome international students and have the opportunity to equip them with skills and qualifications for life," Ms Warwick added.

Ms Warwick said British universities have been working hard to maintain the high levels of international students choosing Britain as their educational destination, yet the fee-hike is likely to offset their recent work and affect the numbers of people applying for a UK student visa

"The Home Office do not appear to recognise the highly competitive environment in which our institutions are working to attract highly talented students to the UK and an increase in immigration fees will work against our activities."

Since February last year, the Home Office has been rolling out a new, tighter system for UK immigration.  Because of the major changes involved, including massive upgrades to security systems at border controls and the development of biometric technologies, the Government is looking to increase its revenue from the UK visa system to cover its costs, so that the taxpayer does not bear the burden of the immigration upgrade.

The Government has released the 2009-10 fee levels for all visa, immigration and nationality applications and services, which can be found on their Home Office website. 

The Government will invest over £2.2 billion during the next two years to the UK immigration system, and around one third of this funding will be borne by foreign nationals. 

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.

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