24 February 2012

UK visa changes forces international students to rethink

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Announced changes to UK visa policy, which will limit the numbers of international students allowed to remain after finishing their studies, has forced several international students to reconsider their destinations for study.

UK visa

Changes to UK visa policy have worried several in the education industry.

The changes to the UK visa policy were announced recently by UK Immigration Minister Damian Green. Mr Green claims the move will limit abuse of the system and prevent foreign citizens from entering the UK with the sole intention of working rather than studying.

However, several Indian students told the India Times that they would now study elsewhere.

"I was planning to go to the UK for my post-graduation but the new PSW [Post Study Work] visa policy makes it difficult for me to get a job in the UK after my studies. Thus, forcing me to look at other alternatives," said Varun Tiwary, a student at Bapatla Engineering College in south-east India.

"It makes no sense to go to a UK university," said Shelly Walia, another aspiring Indian student. "It would be financially impractical to repay the student loan, which I plan to avail of, if I am not able to work there for two years post-studies."

Ms Walia explained that she would now be studying in the US, saying that her friend in the UK had run into difficulties due to the changes.

"I have a friend who went to the UK last year, but is in troubled waters now after learning of the abolition of the PSW visa. He took a loan as well but is worried about his future because he would be in debt longer than he had imagined."

Under the planned changes, only students who have a job offer paying at least £20,000 a year or have £50,000 to invest in a new business will be permitted to stay in the country once their studies finish; this is contrast to the current programme which allows all foreign students to live and work in the UK for two years after graduating.

The UK immigration department's changes have been met with a mixed reception with many educational establishments claiming they will severely damage the UK's international reputation and fail to attract top calibre students. Immigration watchdog UKMigrationWatch however, defended the announcement, claiming that any graduate who cannot secure a position earning at least £20,000 a year does not count as a top calibre student.

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.

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